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Seasoned corporate communications professional Varghese Thomas unravels toxicity in a workplace

The act of looking down on others and creating a toxic culture is a complex phenomenon that requires introspection to understand its underlying causes. I tried to explore the motivations behind looking down on others and the factors contributing to a toxic culture. It also delves into why some individuals struggle to treat others with respect.

Insecurity and Ego: One significant reason for looking down on others is personal insecurity and the need to boost one's ego. 

Individuals who lack self-confidence or have unresolved feelings of inadequacy may engage in this behaviour as a defence mechanism. 

By diminishing others, they temporarily elevate themselves and reinforce their own self-worth.

Power Imbalances and Hierarchies: Creating a toxic culture often involves establishing power imbalances and hierarchies. Individuals who engage in such behaviour may seek to assert dominance or control over others. By belittling and demeaning those around them, they reinforce their position of power and create an environment that perpetuates toxicity.

Lack of Empathy and Understanding: One fundamental reason people struggle to treat others respectfully is the absence of empathy and understanding. In many cases, individuals fail to recognise the impact of their words and actions on others. 

Lack of empathy can stem from a limited perspective or a failure to consider the feelings and experiences of those they interact with.

Negative Role Modelling and Learned Behaviour: In some instances, individuals may have been raised in environments where disrespectful conduct was widespread. Their formative years, influenced by negative role models or experiences, may have shaped their attitudes and perceptions of others. Consequently, they may unknowingly perpetuate a cycle of looking down on others, unaware of the harm it inflicts. This behaviour can stem from being treated disrespectfully at home. This emphasises the significance of cultivating a basis of respect right from birth and acknowledges the influence that troubled relationships and a deficiency in emotional and physical intelligence can have in fostering such behaviour.

Cultivating a Culture of Respect: Creating a culture of respect requires a collective effort. It starts with self-reflection and personal accountability. Individuals must actively develop empathy, understanding, and compassion towards others. It also promotes open communication, active listening, and valuing diverse perspectives. 

By fostering an inclusive and supportive environment, people can collectively contribute to a culture that encourages respect and kindness.

Looking down on others and creating a toxic culture is a complex issue with multiple underlying factors. Insecurity, power imbalances, and a lack of empathy all play significant roles in driving this behaviour. However, it is crucial to recognise that respect and kindness are attainable goals. Individuals can contribute to a society that values and treats others respectfully by cultivating self-awareness, promoting empathy, and fostering inclusive environments. Together, we can break the cycle of toxicity and create a culture that uplifts and empowers everyone.

Varghese Thomas is Chief Communication Officer - Greaves Cotton Limited

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