When I was growing up I was often told that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I should just say nothing. While I can understand the thinking behind this advice in the context of a house of moody teenagers, it’s not very suitable for the world of work. You can’t keep quiet when it’s your job to give your opinion on a new project (even if it’s terrible). But you should probably give more thought to how to couch your words than the average 15-year-old might.

According to this article from our Australia edition, toxic work cultures can grow out of incivility, as well as poor leadership. And while people with the “dark triad” of personality traits (narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism) are more likely to be mean to their colleagues, even “nice” people can be mean sometimes – particularly if they are under pressure or feel let down by leaders.

Anyone who works with people would do well to keep that in mind, alongside some tips for responding to mean comments. The “BIFF technique” might sound like advice on getting physical, but it actually means being brief, informative, friendly and firm, explains Andrei Lux of Edith Cowan University in Australia.

And the onus shouldn’t be only on employees to make working life bearable (or even enjoyable!); employers have a role to play too. Most companies already have rules and procedures to ensure our physical health and safety – think hard hats or even just a reasonably comfortable desk chair. But does your company have the same awareness of psychological hazards? We asked U.S. academics from Babson College, Auburn and George Mason University to explain how jobs can be redesigned to create better workplace cultures and support employees’ mental health.

Pauline McCallion

Senior Business Editor, The Conversation U.K.

Toxic work cultures start with incivility and mediocre leadership. What can you do about it?

Andrei Lux, Edith Cowan University

Workplace incivility doesn’t quite rise to the level of bullying, harassment or discrimination, which makes it harder to tackle. Here’s why it occurs and what can be done about it.

Essential briefings

Why does so much of the world’s manufacturing still take place in China?

Microsoft and Google rivalry could supercharge development of AI

How to protect yourself from drop account fraud – tips from our investigative unit

Inflation: why prices look likely to stay high in the UK and Ireland, and what that means for mortgages

Quote of the week 💬

  • "Put simply, to achieve economic viability and improve revenue from all three income streams, rugby union needs to evolve in a way which encourages growth and attract more interest. New audiences are vital, such as those seen recently in women’s international rugby. Targeting younger audiences through social media would help too, as would working to shed rugby’s image as an elitist sport."

    – Christina Philippou, Principal Lecturer, Accounting, Economics and Finance, University of Portsmouth, and Kieran Maguire, Senior Teacher in Accountancy and member of Football Industries Group, University of Liverpool, from their story Professional men's rugby has major financial issues which need to be tackled





Personal finance

Chart of the week 📊

More from The Conversation