Apr 13 / Jim Benson

Collaborwocky Ep007 - Toxic Work Environments

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The Battle Within

In this episode of Collaborwocky, Jim Benson, Thushyanthan A., and Mark Kilby delve into the complexities of toxic work environments caused by individuals. They explore two distinct patterns: self-hostility and self-overload.

Self-Hostility: The Silent Sabotage

Self-hostility manifests when you undermine your own opinions and efforts. Whether due to imposter syndrome or a desire to be polite, you inadvertently create reasons for others to discount your contributions. The result? A toxic environment where your value diminishes.

Self-Overload: The Burden of Overachievement

Self-overload occurs when you willingly take on excessive work. Driven by martyr syndrome or learned helplessness, you strive to prove your worth. But this can lead to burnout and an unbalanced workload.

Insights from the Conversation

  • Empathy Trap: Being overly empathetic can trap you into overcommitting.
  • Remote Challenges: Fully remote environments exacerbate self-overload and self-hostility.
  • Baggage and Agency: Recognize and drop baggage—unhealthy patterns that hinder growth.
  • Visualizing Work: A visual system helps regulate workload and prevent toxicity.


Remember, everyone battles these inner demons. By fostering empathy, setting boundaries, and visualizing work, we can create healthier workplaces. So drop the baggage, find your agency, and build a collaborative, supportive environment.

Stay tuned for more Collaborwocky insights! đźŚź

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The Team

  • Jim Benson: Founder of Modus Institute and co-author of Personal Kanban and the NEW Course, Toxic Waste.
  • Tonianne DeMaria: Co-founder of Modus Institute, co-author of Personal Kanban, and an expert in the psychology and neuroscience behind work.
  • Dave Prior: Certified Scrum Trainer and a faculty member at Modus Institute.
  • Mark Kilby: Co-author of the book, From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams, and a co-instructor for the new Successful Distributed Teams course on Modus Institute.
  • Thushyanthan A.: An education industry professional and a Modus Institute faculty member with a love for documentation.