Poison or Medicine

That person is so toxic. We don’t tolerate that here. This company has a no a-holes policy. Sound familiar? What if I told you that you don’t have to like everyone that you work with?

A step further — what if the most irritating (to you) qualities or characteristics of your teammate are the exact necessary pieces of your team’s puzzle that will make you more amazing together than you could be apart?

Sola dosis facet venenum
“The dose makes the poison”


A basic principle in toxicology is that all things are poisonous in the right dose. Too much water or sunlight can kill you, but just enough will heal and sustain you. Maybe that colleague’s “toxic positivity” is the buffer necessary to press on through a difficult project. Perhaps that “overly critical” naysayer who “always sees the worst” is spotting flaws that could derail your whole mission if they aren’t addressed proactively? Both of these elements are powerful–in the right dose!

All of this is assuming a basic level of professionalism and kindness in communication. There are bosses, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances who are truly harmful and you should absolutely not stay in a damaging situation. They are poisonous at any amount of exposure.

I encourage you to not only look for teammates who you like, or who are like you. Look for teammates who will add something that makes you all function better together than you could apart.