Live talk available at the below date and time. The Electrical Industries Charity presents a wellbeing series of inspirational speakers and leading experts in mental health, law, and reliance. The series is uplifting and educational on a range of issues impacting our industry. Format of the series will be a 50-minute virtual presentation followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers facilitated by the Charity CEO, Tessa Ogle.
Jamie is a senior solicitor in our Employment team. He provides advice on all employment law matters to clients across a range of sectors, including: day-to-day employment advice and HR support, contracts and changes to terms and conditions, discipline and grievance, absence and performance, discrimination, whistleblowing, mental health, sexual harassment, restructuring and redundancies, TUPE, drafting and negotiating settlement agreements and corporate support. He also regularly represents clients in the Employment Tribunal and has appeared in Scotland, England & Wales and Northern Ireland.
Burness Paull LLP is a leading independent law firm, based in Scotland and acting for clients throughout the UK and internationally. They have both Scottish and English qualified lawyers and act for many household names. Our employment law team is the largest in Scotland, with significant experience dealing with all aspects of employment law and HR advice and employment tribunal representation. The employment law team is top ranked by the legal directories (Legal 500 and Chambers) and acts for clients throughout the UK and internationally.
Jamie worked in the electrical industry for 5 years before starting his legal career.
Banter v Bullying – He often advises clients about the difference between banter and bullying in the workplace and has been involved in tribunal cases where one leads to the other. He will talk about the difference between the two, (in)appropriate behaviour in the workplace, and how managers and employers can stay on the right side of the law.
This July we shine the spotlight on relationships. Our entire life is formed of relationships whether that be with partners, family members, colleagues or friends and our relationships can have a huge impact on our mental and even physical health. We explore how to remove toxic relationships from your life, how to ensure relationships are positive and different ways to keep relationships working for you.
A toxic relationship is defined as a relationship between two people who don’t support each other, where is the conflict, competition, a lack of respect and cohesiveness. This means toxic relationships can exist romantically, platonically and professionally and when a relationship is toxic it can poison everything else around you. Of course, relationships can have ups and downs but when the negative aspects outweigh the positive consistently the relationship can be a huge drain.
Fundamentally, toxic relationship behaviours are the result of a lack of empathy. Whether that be demanding your partner live up to your expectations, or refusing to see things from their perspective, toxic behaviour often represents an inability to feel genuine understanding and compassion for the other person. While it may seem like empathy is something people are born with, it’s actually possible to become more empathic by consciously practicing empathy in our daily lives, the same way we might practice a sport.
The most serious warning signs include any form of violence, abuse or harassment, which should be dealt with immediately. But in many cases, the indicators of a toxic relationship are much more subtle.
The first, and simplest, is persistent unhappiness, Glass says. If a relationship stops bringing joy, and instead consistently makes you feel sad, angry, anxious or “resigned, like you’ve sold out,” it may be toxic, Glass says. You may also find yourself envious of happy couples.
1. Lack of trust
A partner is someone for you to rely on, to be vulnerable with, and to have in your corner. In the absence of trust, none of these things are possible.
"When I see people in a mostly healthy relationship, there is a security that they have in the stability in their relationship," says Jeni Woodfin, LMFT, a therapist at J. Woodfin Counseling in San Jose, California. "Without trust, and not just trust that their partner will be faithful, but trust that their partner will behave in the best interest of the agreements of the relationship, there cannot be a sense of security."
2. Hostile communication
Forms of hostile communications include:
According to Woodfin, subtler signs of hostile communication include:
Hostile communication can cause tension and create further distrust between partners. Rather, healthy relationships rely on open communication, cooling down before things get too heated, and respect.
3. Controlling behaviours
Your partner doesn't have the right to control your actions or beliefs. According to Woodfin, one controlling behaviour to look out for is threatening loss of something, such as financial stability, time with your children, or companionship. "These threats strike fear in many people, and I find these are the reasons many, many people stay in unhealthy, unhappy relationships even when wishing for the relationship to end," she says.
Other signs of controlling behaviour include:
4. Frequent lying
"Lies — no matter how small — erode credibility over time," says Romanoff.
When a partner lies to you, it signals they don't respect you as a mutual partner who deserves honesty and care.
"Lying to your partner indicates your allegiance is to yourself, not the relationship," says Woodfin.
5. All take, no give
If your relationship consistently revolves around what makes your partner happy and ignores your needs, it can be a sign of toxicity.
"Being considerate of your partner is one thing, but if you find yourself saying no to yourself frequently to say yes to them, you might want to consider setting some boundaries," says Lewis. "If they dismiss, belittle, or bulldoze your boundaries, that could also be a sign of a toxic relationship."
According to Woodfin, signs of a one-sided relationship include:
6. You feel drained
Think about the last time you did something for yourself, spent time — even virtually — with a loved one, or slept soundly.
"It is helpful to examine how your connections outside of the relationship and with yourself have been affected," says Romanoff. "Usually, self-care and self-prioritization are neglected. Time and mental energy in toxic relationships will often be spent on the other person — either directly or indirectly through the backlash of unremitting discord and strife."
Try shifting some of your energy to take care of yourself and see how your partner reacts. If their response is negative, that signals toxic traits in the relationship.
7. You're making excuses for their behaviour
Do you often find yourself forced into a position to defend your partner? While it's easy to fall back on the mentality of 'you don't know them like I do,' an outside perspective from someone you know loves you— such as a friend or family member you trust — may be able to clearly see your partner's negative characteristics that are hard to acknowledge yourself.
Toxic dynamics can be mended with conscious time, effort, and self-awareness. But both people need to be willing to change and accept responsibility to move forward. Here's exactly how to fix a toxic relationship:
A toxic friendship often feels exhausting, frustrating, and disappointing. It may seem as if the entire dynamic is one-sided. It may also seem like whatever you give just isn’t good enough. Toxic friends may be pessimistic, hurtful, or manipulative within the relationship. At the same time, they may not be aware of their behaviour, adding further complications.
In a healthy friendship, both friends tend to respect and support one another mutually. There’s an inherent sense of trust within the relationship. In most cases, both people seek to be loving and generous with their time and resources. Toxic friends, however, often present as selfish and challenging. They may struggle with healthy communication and become aggressive, passive-aggressive, or dismissive when they don’t get what they want. They may also depend on you for validation or comfort. Everyone has their moments, but toxic friends tend to stir drama and cause problems on a regular basis. If you constantly feel annoyed, disrespected, or guilty when spending time with a certain friend, those feelings may be key indicators of an unhealthy dynamic.
No two toxic friendships look identical, but similarities do exist within these dynamics. Most of the time, toxic friendships result in chronic negative feelings. As a result, you may find yourself making excuses to avoid spending time with your friend. You may also feel guilty if they don’t have other forms of emotional support.
Here are 13 key signs that your friend is toxic:
They Tease or Insult You Regularly:
Friends should lift each other up. While the occasional joke may be harmless, chronic put-downs are a red flag. You shouldn’t feel like you’re being consistently criticized in a friendship.
The next time your friend insults you, let them know it hurts your feelings. A genuine friend will apologize and stop the behavior. A toxic friend will likely accuse you of being sensitive, insist you’re overreacting, or keep emphasizing that it’s just a joke.
They Want All Your Attention (On-Demand):
No one friend can fulfill every emotional need. But a toxic friend may try to convince you that you’re the only person in the world who can understand them best.
They may try to seek your attention by:
• Texting, calling, or reaching out to you incessantly.
• Feigning crises or exaggerating other life issues to obtain your support.
• Insisting that nobody else relates to them.
• Lavishly praising and boasting about how wonderful and helpful you are (to reinforce the behavior).
They Make Themselves the Perpetual Victim:
No matter what, it seems like the world is out to get them. Nothing can go right, at least in their opinion. Toxic friends often seem like they’re always in a crisis. But even if the problems are real, they rarely take any initiative to control their reactions or improve the situation. As a result, they often present as helpless and needy, making you feel concerned, frustrated, or even resentful.
They Peer Pressure You Into Doing Things You Don’t Want To Do:
Peer pressure isn’t exclusive to teenagers. Unfortunately, most of us have succumbed to peer pressure to be accepted and fit in with others. But toxic friends often thrive on influencing others to stoop down to their level. For example, if they struggle with drinking, they may encourage you to order more drinks at Happy Hour. Or, if they keep hopping from relationship to relationship, they may subtly dig at you for staying in your long-term relationship.
They Disrespect Your Boundaries:
Boundaries can be challenging in any relationship, but supportive friends will work hard to understand and respect your limits. Toxic friends, however, often believe they’re exempt from your boundaries, especially when they need your support. As a result, you may feel conflicted about setting boundaries. You may feel like you’re the bad guy for creating such rules. And, you also may feel frustrated with yourself when you can’t implement your intentions.
They Are Jealous of Your Other Friends:
A toxic friend will feel jealous and frustrated by the other people in your life. After all, they want to know they’re the most important, trusted person! Subsequently, they may insult your friends. For example, if you vent to them about another person, they may try to convince you how you’re so much better off without them. In extreme cases, they may go behind your back and lie or smear you to others to sever your reputation.
You Give Way More Than You Receive:
No relationship is truly 50/50. But if it seems like you’re always the one giving your time, money, or other resources, you probably have a toxic friendship. Your friend may be taking advantage of your generosity instead of reflecting on how they can contribute to the relationship. As a result, they may assume that it’s no problem for you. Furthermore, they may also believe they’re simply entitled to have what they want- even if it’s at someone else’s expense.
You Love When Your Plans Get Cancelled:
If you feel more relief than sadness when you can’t spend time with your friend, that’s a cause for concern. But, generally speaking, you should want to connect with your friends! If you find yourself dreading upcoming events- or if you keep making excuses as to why you can’t attend- it’s probably a critical indicator that you’re growing weary of the friendship.
You Often Withhold Telling Them Your Real Truth:
If you’re in a toxic friendship, you might already be pulling back without realizing it. Typically, this happens when you don’t feel safe with another person. If that’s the case, you will keep your guard up and avoid sharing anything that can be used against you. Of course, this pattern can be frustrating. The toxic friend may not even notice, but they will continue using that time to talk or focus on themselves.
You Keep Lying or Covering for Them:
Maybe other people have raised concerns about your friend’s problematic behavior. Perhaps they have pulled you aside to express their worry or anger about a certain situation. If your knee-jerk response is to defend or minimize their actions, pay attention. You may be enabling their toxic patterns without really knowing it.
You Feel Trapped or Obligated to Be Their Friend:
Some toxic friends use emotional abuse tactics to maintain their relationships. Emotionally abusive relationships often feel chaotic and frightening.
Some common signs of chronic emotional abuse in friendships include:
• Making jokes or threats about hurting themselves if you weren’t around.
• Putting you down often (and then making you believe you’re overreacting).
• Acting differently when you two are in public versus in private.
• Consistently shifting the blame to make it seem like you have the problem.
• Testing your loyalty and devotion often
You Feel Like You’re In Competition With Them:
Genuine friends are happy for one another. They revel and celebrate each other’s successes. Even if some jealousy emerges, it typically coincides with feeling happy, proud, and excited for your friend’s good fortune. But toxic friends tend to make it seem like everything is a game. This is especially true if your toxic friend is your coworker. They present as wanting to win, and they will likely put you down (either directly or subtly) when you obtain something they want.
You Feel Completely Drained:
How are your other relationships right now? Do you feel emotionally exhausted? Do you feel like you have nothing left to give? You may be experiencing a sense of relationship burnout.
Toxic friendships can undoubtedly take a toll on your well-being. Because you spend so much time trying to please them (or read their mind), it can take away from other important relationships or activities.
If you're not sure whether you should end the friendship, Squyres suggests first talking to other people to get a "reality check" on the relationship. An outsider's opinion can draw your attention to red flags you didn't notice or have brushed under the rug. "You could also try setting limits with this person," Squyres adds. She did this herself with a friend who would always monopolize the conversation whenever they talked on the phone. Whenever that happened, she would just say, "I need to hang up now"—and she would actually do it.
Lombardo agrees and adds that once you "establish boundaries, stick with them." If you have a friend who's always calling you and begging you to bend over backward to help with her projects, tell her you can't—every time. When you're just #overit, you can "slow fade" out of the friendship, says Bonior. "That's the easiest, most comfortable way to extract yourself," she explains. But, it "only works when both parties recognize what's happening, and both parties take a step back naturally." If your toxic friend has no clue that they're radioactive, they might push back harder, get offended, become accusatory, or just totally miss the hint, cautions Bonior. "If you have to be more direct, you have to be more direct," she continues. "Nobody wants to do this— it's totally awkward—but sometimes... you just have to be clear." She recommends saying something neutral yet firm, such as: "Hey, I know you've noticed that I haven't been able to spend as much time with you lately. To be honest, my life's moving in a different direction. I value the friendship that we've had, but I just don't see being able to spend as much time together."
Best case scenario, they accept your decision. "But in a really toxic relationship, all bets are off," says Bonior. "The person could start a huge argument, and when that's the case, all you owe to that person is just be clear about what you're doing. You can be respectful, but you gotta be firm." To stay firm, she recommends going into this conversation with a clear sense of what you want to get out of it. This will help you keep your emotions in check if it starts getting into a confrontation. When that happens, all you have to say is,"This discussion is upsetting to me. I've told you where I stand. I'm not going to be able to spend much time with you in the future. I am not going to be in touch." At that point, both Bonior and Squyres say you have the right to cut the toxic friend off. "You can't have a constructive conversation with this person, so the ordinary rules of engagement no longer apply," Squyres says. "You just need to exit as gracefully as you can and just realize that's your answer."
The word “family” can bring to mind an array of complex emotions. Depending on your childhood and current family situation, these feelings could be mostly positive, mostly negative, or an equal mix of both.
If you’ve experienced a toxic family dynamic, your feelings may go beyond frustration or annoyance. Instead, interacting with or even thinking about your family might cause significant emotional distress.
Toxic or dysfunctional family dynamics can be hard to recognize, especially when you’re still entrenched in them. Here’s a look at some common signs and what to do if you recognize them in your own family.
Think back to your childhood. Many people don’t realize the effects of their family environment during childhood until they’re well into adulthood.
The following signs suggest that you may have experienced a toxic family environment growing up:
But these tasks shouldn’t have kept you from completing school assignments, playing, or getting adequate sleep.
If you were raised in a toxic family, you may have been asked to:
But supportive family members should support your basic needs by:
While there could be other factors involved, regularly going without any of the above can strongly suggest a toxic or unhealthy family dynamic.
Identifying what you want from the relationship can help you develop a clearer idea of the boundaries you want to set.
Say you like spending casual time with your sister on weekends, but not when she asks about your love life. You know she’ll share those details with your mother, who will then call to criticize and tease you.
You still want to maintain a relationship with your sister, so one solution might be limiting your visits with your sister to once a month and telling her ahead of time that you won’t discuss dating.
When you do spend time with family members, don’t let them pull you into the family issues you’d prefer to keep separate. You don’t have to get involved in anything you’d rather avoid.
Detachment can involve:
Decide what you’ll share and what you’ll keep private:
You don’t need to share everything with your family. You might find it helpful to keep significant details private from toxic family members who have a history of using them to criticize, mock, or manipulate you.
Before seeing your family, consider reminding yourself of what you’d prefer not to share. If possible, come up with one or two ways to change the subject if needed. That said, it’s always OK to simply say, “I’d rather not talk about my health/dietary choices/parenting skills/love life,” and end the conversation.
Learn when to say no:
Setting boundaries for yourself and saying no to things that might compromise those boundaries can help you navigate difficult or toxic relationship patterns more easily. It’s not always easy to say no to family members. Fabrizio adds, “If you reject any family member’s behavior (no matter how outrageous), you take the risk they may reject you.” If you know a situation will make you feel unhappy, distressed, or uncomfortable, saying “no” might be your best option. You can explain your reasoning if you want to, but don’t feel like you have to. A toxic family member may try to persuade or manipulate you into changing your mind. Have confidence in your decision and know you’re doing the right thing for yourself. Family members who love and support you should also recognize and support that need.
Don’t try to change anyone:
When dealing with toxic family members, it’s not uncommon to hold out hope that they’ll change. You might fantasize about the day they finally realize how they’ve hurt you and get to work on changing their behavior. Sure, people can and do change, but it’s beyond your control. Beyond telling them how you feel, asking them to consider your perspective, and encouraging them to talk to a therapist or other professional, there’s not much you can do.
Plan meetings that work for you:
Giving yourself power in any interactions you have can make a big difference.
Fabrizio suggests the following:
Sometimes, cutting off contact is the best move, even if the other person doesn’t intend to cause you harm. If the relationship does you more harm than good, it’s an option worth considering.
Deciding to cut off contact with your family, no matter how much hurt they’ve caused, can be extremely difficult. These tips are designed to help guide your thought process and next steps.
They don’t respect your boundaries or limits:
If you aren’t sure cutting off contact is the right decision, Fabrizio suggests first stating your needs and giving your family members a chance to show they can respect the boundaries you’ve expressed.
If they still can’t do this after a few tries, things likely won’t change anytime soon. Cutting off contact might be the healthiest move in that case.
They physically or verbally abuse you:
It’s generally safest to distance yourself from family members who cause you physical harm. If you have to see them, try to always meet them in public or have someone with you.
Verbal abuse can be more difficult to recognize, but some examples include:
Family members who lie as often as they tell the truth can make you feel unsettled and confused. You might have a hard time trusting anyone, family or otherwise. If you point out this behavior and it continues, cutting off contact may be the only way to distance yourself from it. Talking to them or seeing them causes emotional distress. When you don’t feel good about seeing your family, or when any contact inspires only negative emotions, it could be time to consider whether taking a break might help improve the situation. If you have thoughts like Why am I putting myself through this? or Do I have to see them? remember that you don’t have to see them or put yourself through anything you don’t want to deal with. Cutting off contact doesn’t have to be a permanent decision, either. You may just need some time away from the situation.
One of the keys to a better version of you, mentally and physically, is sleeping well. We want all of our industry members to sleep as well as they can that’s why EIC have partnered with Sleepstation. Sleepstation is a clinically validated sleep improvement programme that can help you learn how to control and optimise your sleep to get the best sleep possible. Designed by experts and backed by science, the online service is proven to combat even the most severe insomnia. Their team will help you identify the underlying causes of your sleep problem and provide the personal support and guidance needed to improve your sleep. Sleepstation delivers remote care with a personal touch and that's what makes it so effective. Therapeutic support through Sleepstation is available to those in need and meeting our charity eligibility criteria.