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We live in an era where bullying, shaming and just overall negativity are seen as more commonplace than being flat-out nice. Open Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and click on the comment section of any celebrity’s last post. You’ll get a good helping of hate.

Sure, it’s just social media, but it really does translate into our real-life interactions. Both your clients and coworkers can bring a level of toxicity to your business that will dramatically affect your bottom line.

Whether it’s clients creating roadblocks over the smallest details or other agents working to bring their colleagues down, today’s entrepreneur needs to be equipped to not only combat the problem when face to face, but also prevent it from ever happening.

Here are a few tips on how to eliminate the toxicity from your professional life.

1. Be transparent right out the gate

There’s no room for “grey areas” or miscommunications. Cut that out right from the start. If clear-cut terms and expectations are established from first substantive contact, then even the most unreasonable people won’t have a leg to stand on.

  • For toxic clients, clear contracts and agreements solve everything. These are the services I’m providing. This is what’s realistic. This is how much I cost. These are the results to expect. No frills.
  • For toxic coworkers, avoid playing games. This is the work I do, how I do it and what to expect. Avoid the drama, and don’t pin yourself into competing with all certain colleagues.

2. Don’t fix tomorrow what can be fixed today

Problems don’t go away with time, they just grow, so eliminate them today. By brushing impending issues under the rug, you’re allowing things to build up and, in general, just giving yourself anxiety.

  • For toxic clients, have those uncomfortable conversations as soon as possible. By addressing it right away, you’re telling them from the start that something needs to be changed or adjusted. By waiting, you’re making the solution harder and harder to attain. Even the worst clients will, in the end, appreciate a proactive and upfront agent.
  • For toxic coworkers, don’t let the drama build. Someone has a problem with you? Office gossip keeps circulating? You want to talk to your boss about something? Just do it.

3. Create distance

Setting limits and boundaries for your own sanity are a must. There are certain hours of the day you’re available and certain hours that are for your personal life. Toxicity can grow and spread by a lack of having space from your work.

  • For toxic clients, set those hours where you’re reachable and when you’re not. By setting a schedule, you’ll earn their respect and not let them walk all over you. Additionally, to be at your sharpest, you’ll need your rest too.
  • For toxic coworkers, separate your personal and work life. If you’re surrounded by the wrong set of people at work, keep it all work. Don’t go out with them. Don’t add them on social media. Keep it 100 percent professional so that the only gossip buzzing around is about work.

4. Build your network

We all became agents to have control of lives and destiny. Our network equals our net worth, right? Sorry for the cheese, but it’s true. How productive we are and how successful we become is highly dictated by those we surround ourselves with.

  • For toxic clients, cut them off. No paycheck is big enough if it comes at the expense of your mental health. The truth is some clients are uncloseable, at least at that given period of time. They might not be really ready to transact, have the right attitude or even realistic expectations. With time, they might be closable, but don’t waste your time on a client that’s just bringing negativity to the situation.
  • For toxic coworkers, this is all up to you. You’re in real estate, you get to decide who you get to work with. The agents at your firm are toxic? Switch firms. Your “boss” isn’t giving you the support and guidance you need? Switch firms. Assemble a group of people around you that inspire you, bring positivity to your business, and give you that drive to kill it. Every day without that support is a wasted one, and time is money. Make the change.

Toxicity in the workplace is crippling. It’ll divert your attention from being a positive-minded closer, so you need to avoid it at all costs. By proactively taking the necessary steps starting now, not later, toxic situations and negative-minded individuals can be eclipsed from our businesses before they even become a problem.

By being upfront and transparent, not waiting to take action, keeping work at work and building a strong support system, you’ll be well on your way to building a healthy business.

Mike Jeneralczuk is a licensed real estate salesperson with REAL New York. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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