The Brutus: Toxic Workplace Behavior Profile

Updated: Feb 18, 2019


This series of articles explores the toxic behavior profiles that persistently generate workplace conflict and provides tips on how to respond.


In Creative vs. Toxic Conflict at Work, The Submarine, and The Diva I discussed one of the key features that distinguishes toxic conflict from creative conflict.


Creative conflict is rooted in the dynamics between people. In creative conflict, the motives and goals of group members are typically healthy and focused on a sincere desire to solve concrete external problems and challenges.


Toxic conflict is typically rooted in the personalities of individual people. While creative conflict is rooted in an external problem, toxic conflict is rooted in the problematic behavior of one or more individuals.


Thankfully, most of the behavior that generates toxic conflict is common and predictable. This means that you can plan ahead for behaviors that are certain to recur.

Think of these “Toxic Workplace Behavior Profile” articles as your top-secret files on how to prepare and respond strategically to the most disruptive and toxic behaviors in your workplace.


Code Name: The Brutus


Motto: Sincerity - if you can fake that, you've got it made.


Favorite Song: Backstabbers - by the O’Jays


Favorite Movie: The Ides of March (R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman)


Behavior: The O’Jays said it all in their super-smooth 70’s hit Backstabbers, “They smile in your face… All the time they want to take your place.” If Julius Caesar had only watched more Soul Train…


Whether the Brutus wants to take your woman, your man, your corner office, or the last cruller in the break room – their behavior will always revolve around one simple principle. They use intimacy and trust as a weapon.

The workplace Brutus is very difficult to handle because we don’t want to believe that they exist. After all, most of us greatly value trust, loyalty, and friendship. The though