How often do you go to say or do something but then hold back out of fear of being impolite or unprofessional? How often do you find yourself playing nice and trying to avoid confrontation for as long as possible before you finally assert yourself? In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I explain insane politeness and toxic professionalism. 

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5 key topics in this episode

  • While in some instances, we’re being polite and professional in that we’re respectful and considerate of others and respect, for instance, work boundaries that allow us to uphold healthy workplace values and attitudes, this often isn’t what we’re doing. Instead, our idea of being ‘polite’ and ‘professional’ is shorthand for silencing needs, desires, expectations, feelings and opinions. They’re shorthand for being compliant even when it’s harmful and for avoiding anything we don’t want to deal with.
  • Social masks separate a person from their personhood. We struggle to decipher our boundaries and what’s occurring in a situation because we’re too busy trying to uphold an image of politeness and professionalism.
  • We already have a tendency to make authorities out of others and fear getting into trouble. We’ve grown up in the Age of Obedience that taught us to be compliant and make people into authorities. So in a situation where we need to question something or we know it’s wrong, we won’t. We’ll fear, for instance, looking like we’re going over their head or lacking work ethic. 
  • We have to stop calling repeated, habitual, chronic denial and neglect of the self ‘politeness’ and ‘professionalism’. They’re not. Recognising and saying no to insane politeness and toxic professionalism is about having healthier boundaries. It’s about recognising where we’re operating on old programming instead of honest, assertive preference.

Spot our insane politeness and toxic professionalism

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The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon/HarperCollins) is out now and available in bookshops on and offline. Listen to the first chapter.
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