Permission Slips in the many do you write?

“They write each other permission slips all the time.” This comment was made to by an employee I was interviewing about the culture and climate her workplace. She was expressing her frustration regarding two co-workers who loudly join together in toxic, negative, gossip-filled bantering. “When it happens, I put on my suit of armor.”

Her words got me thinking about the act of “granting permission.” What role do each of us have in granting permission, or at least offering support for negative behaviors that tear down not build up positive working environments?


Permission denied

The next time a co-worker makes an attempt at engaging you in gossip, backstabbing, negative talk and sarcastic comments or even inappropriate humor, you can either metaphorically write them a permission slip to continue…or you can deny them permission to continue.


How Do We Grant Permission?

The act of “writing a permission slip” can be as obscure as stopping what you are doing and giving the offender your attention. Not writing a permission slip can be as subtle as not giving them eye contact, continuing with your work. Writing a permission slip can be laughing along or adding our own .2 cents. Not writing a permission slip can be simply saying, “Not now. I’m focusing my energy in the positive.”


Grant Permission for the Positive!

You can also use the metaphorical permission slip in the exact same way to support behaviors that

Your choice!

increase positive, emotionally safe and healthy work. When a co-worker mentions something positive about that new database conversion, give them your full attention and ask them to say more. When someone compliments a co-worker and you agree, join in.


Permission for the Most Important Person

And most importantly, write yourself some positive permission slips to give authentic compliments or positive reinforcement when you are inspired to do so.

Write yourself a permission slip to not take the lunchtime walk with the person who is always complaining and negatively venting without offering solutions.


We all have a leading role in creating and modeling the work environment we desire. The permission slip metaphor gives us a tool to subtly yet powerfully shift our workplace environments.


To learn how to shift the culture and climate in your work environment, call or email Beth at 978-614-5405 or

Empowering individuals, teams and organizations to achieve goals!