Glossary of Toxic Behaviors


The remarks here are my own opinion. I made the opinions based on my many years of work experience as a HR practitioner. You are entitled to accept, reject or ignore them.


Employee toxic behaviors surfaced in organiations because there is often no formal policy to deal with them. The word employee here also refers to management staff because they are employees as well.

If you look at the company disciplinary policy and the list of misconducts, very often you will find that very little is mentioned.

The trouble in dealing with toxic behaviors is that many of us tolerate them, particularly if we are not the ones affected or at the receiving end.

Often extreme behaviors occur simply because seemingly lighter ones were not nipped in the buds.

From the following case, the learning point seems to be that such behaviors need to be handle in a fair and no nonsense way; with the priority given to proper running of the business so that the business will continue to thrive; and with the understanding that jobs feed many workers and their families. This is a quality that is sadly and widely missing in today’s employees that are holding top level leadership.

Importance of a Disciplined Workforce: LKY vs Alpha-S

In 2003, the Airline Pilots Association-Singapore (Alpha-S) staged an unofficial work-to-rule after SIA’s management ignore Alpha-S’s 17 October deadline for a counter proposal for Alpha-S’s demand for a 30% increase in basic salaries, higher meal allowances , and other fringe benefits. Some pilots refused to fly when the flights exceeded 12 hours, leaving their planes stranded in transit. Others reported sick when standby duties were activated. This lasted from 23rd October to 4th November, disrupting 4 flights during this period.

Singapore Government leaders have placed the SIA dispute on the national agenda because that is how central the country’s airline and Changi airport are to Singapore’s success story. At stake are tens of thousands of jobs, not just directly in aviation, but also in tourism, logistics, aerospace and a multitude of businesses that depend on the connectivity that Changi Airport as a hub provides. If the airport is by passed by competitors, Singapore’s entire economy is at risk.

Towards the beginning of 2004; sensing a potentially major crisis is about to unfold before his eyes, former Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew stepped in.

Goh Chok Tong, former Prime Minister said “No group of employees in Singapore should act without regard for the impact on others, or hold the company and fellow workers hostage to their narrow self-interests,”

He invited cordially all the leading members of Alpa-S who are involved in the ‘pay strike’ saga to the Istana for a ‘meeting’. The purpose of the meeting is so that the government can listen to the pilots’ side of the story and to help resolve the issue.

During the meeting, Mr Lee singled out Captain Ryan Goh as the instigator of the revolt by union members, who had voted out union leaders after they accepted pay cuts at the state-owned airline during the SARS crisis.

During the meeting, Mr Lee exposed that Captain Ryan Goh, a 43 year old pilot leading the ‘pay strike’ is a Malaysian holding a Singapore PR (approved in 1981) and Australian PR (approved in 2002). Captain Goh had already moved his wife and children to Perth, shipped his car and sold his flat in Singapore. He pointed out that Singaporean pilots would be the losers because Captain Goh had tried to undermine the interests of SIA and Singapore whereas Captain Goh had a back-up plan for himself.

Subsequently, the Singapore Government identified Captain Goh as an undesirable immigrant’ as defined by Section 8(3)(k) of the Immigration Act. He is then regarded as prohibited immigrant and barred from Singapore. Captain Goh’s permanent residency in Singapore was revoked.

Glossary of Toxic Behaviors

Make accusations Charging someone with doing something wrong or committed a crime but having no evidence that the person is guilty.
Back stabbing Criticize someone in a treacherous manner despite pretending friendship with them.
Blame-shifting; lie to deflect blame from oneself. To make someone else responsible for something, especially for something bad that has happened
Calling names; name calling The act of insulting someone by calling them rude name.
Cover up A planned effort to hide a dishonest, immoral, illegal act, wrong doing or mistake. A way of behaving that is meant to prevent people from knowing about something.
Credit stealing Taking credt for someone else’s work
(Being) Cynical Bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic
Double speak Deliberately obscures , disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., “downsizing” for layoffs, “servicing the target” for bombing), in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning. In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth. Doublespeak is most closely associated with political language
Flame mail A nasty email sent to complain, ridicule, or chastise the recipient, or readers.
Gossiping Spreading information about the behavior and personal lives of other people that are of personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
Hurl accusations, insults, abuse, allegations. To shout accusations, insults, abuse, somebody in a loud and angry way.
Misleading To cause someone to believe something that is not true.
Mud-slinging The use of insults and accusations, especially unjust ones, with the aim of damaging the reputation of an opponent.
Make up stories; tell tales Create tales that are untrue.
Naysaying Display pessimistic, angry and uncooperative behavior because they don’t see success as a possibility.
Pass the Buck Evade responsibility by passing to someone else.
Pretend to agree Agreeing with people openly even when you think they are wrong
Put Words in Someone’s Mouth To say that someone means one thing when the person really meant something else.
Push to the front Unwillingly thrust into an unwelcome situation.
Rumor mongering Spreading rumors, often maliciously.
Suck up Try to make someone in authority approve of you by doing and saying things that will please them.
Two Faced Not honest, insincere or deceitful.

Acts one way in certain situations and then in a contrary manner in others. An example of someone who would be described astwofaced is a person who pretends to be your friend and then starts calling you names as soon as you leave the room.

Saying different things to different people in order to gain their approval instead of speaking and behaving honestly.

Use someone else’s name Using someone else’s name, likeness, or other personal attributes without permission for an exploitative purpose.