The no contact method is by far the best approach one could have when dealing with a toxic or abusive person but it is nearly impossible to use in the workplace. Using the no contact method with a colleague will likely lead to you missing out on opportunities that could push your career forward and potentially even cost you your job. This doesn’t mean you have to just take the abuse on the chin, it means that you have to learn how to go no contact when you work together. 

To go no contact with a toxic or abusive colleague, victims of abuse should use the yellow rock method and document everything because it is going to prevent the colleague’s abuse from affecting the victim’s emotional stability and portray the victim in a positive light that allows them to keep their job. 

Working in a toxic or abusive environment is tough. You’re not going to be valued or respected, conflicts won’t be resolved with empathy and self-awareness, everyone seems unhappy, uninspired, and undetermined, and safely leaving these environments takes a lot of time and planning which is why the yellow rock method is such an effective technique for going no contact when you work together. 

How to Use the Yellow Rock Method to Go No Contact When You Work Together

First and foremost, it is really important to understand the difference between the grey rock method and the yellow rock method as confusing the two when trying to go no contact with someone you work with could cost you your livelihood. 

When someone refuses to have a significant conversation with the abuser in their life, it is called the grey rock method. This means that they’ll have extremely neutral emotions with the abuser, they won’t try to explain themselves, they won’t try to defend themselves, they won’t engage in any type of arguments or confrontations, they’ll just remain a boring grey rock. 

This is a fantastic technique to use against an abuser when there aren’t any significant consequences for coming off as cold, rigid, and slightly arrogant. The yellow rock method uses the same principles; however, the victim of abuse will communicate in a way that portrays them as friendly or cordial instead of cold, rigid, and arrogant. 

First Example of the Yellow Rock Method at Work

Imagine that you had an extremely toxic, and borderline abusive, colleague that you were forced to collaborate with for a project. 

You each are tasked with completing different parts of the project, the toxic colleague needs to come up with a new design for a kitchen that is going to be renovated and you need to come up with a new design for a living room that is going to be renovated as well. 

You’re doing two separate things but you’re also expected to collaborate to ensure that the designs match one another. Well, this toxic colleague refuses to communicate with you and therefore you can’t create a strategic plan that works for the both of you moving forward. 

If you were to use the grey rock method, the lack of communication wouldn’t bother you one single bit. You would just focus on making sure that your work is ready to be presented. The only problem is that you were expected to collaborate so failing to do so will not bode well for you. 

Instead, you are going to want to use the yellow rock method. To do this we suggest you send an extremely polite, informative, and timely email.

an example of a yellow rock response

Second Example of the Yellow Rock Method at Work

A very common form of abuse in toxic and abusive work environments is called triangulation. Triangulation is when an abuser makes a one-on-one situation into a two or more-on-one situation. 

Triangulation in the workplace creates a lot of paranoia, fear, cliques, gossip, flying monkeys, and anxiety while simultaneously giving the abuser power and control over everyone because nobody wants to be on the wrong side of triangulation. 

For example, imagine that an abusive boss purposely left you off an email list with an important announcement and held a group meeting but didn’t ask you to attend. You’re going to feel pretty isolated and your colleagues are going to take note of that and try to distance themselves from you out of fear of their own jobs. 

Instead of shutting down, use the yellow rock method to put your abusive boss in an uncomfortable position where they have to explain their wrongful behavior without incriminating themselves. 

An example of an employe using the yellow rock method to go no contact with a narcissistic boss

When you’re trapped in a toxic or abusive work environment that you can’t just go no contact with by quitting, the yellow rock method is a fantastic option. However, for the best results we strongly recommend that you reinforce the yellow rock method with keeping a detailed account of all forms of communication in case you need to defend yourself and your job in some way, shape, or form. 

How to Document All Communications to Go No Contact When You Work Together

The best approach to documenting all forms of communication with a toxic or abusive colleague would be a combination of audio recordings and detailed written documentation.

With that being said, when it comes to audio recordings you have to be sure that you do it legally. We strongly encourage that you look up your local laws for recording a conversation in a work environment and as a general rule, it’s usually illegal to record a conversation to which you are not a party of or can’t overhear.

Outside of looking up your local laws pertaining to audio recordings in a work environment, the best approach to legally recording conversations would be to simply ask the permission of those you wish to record. 

A woman using the yellow rock method on her boss

A fantastic and legal alternative to audio recordings would be contemporaneous notes of interactions you have with toxic or abusive colleagues. A great way to go about this would be to keep a notebook on your person at all times and write down the interactions you have with the toxic or abusive colleague as soon as you can so your memory is still fresh.

When it comes to keeping contemporaneous notes, there is no such thing as too much detail. Your notes should clearly outline the who, what, where, how, and when of every single interaction that you have with the toxic or abusive colleague. 

Keeping contemporaneous notes in YOUR OWN notebook is a really important step to take when going no contact when you work together because it’s your property and can’t be taken away from you if you were to be fired. We also strongly recommend that you consult with a qualified professional who does employee-side employment law. 

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Dealing with a toxic or abusive work environment is extraordinarily challenging. They are notorious for having bad leadership, rampant favoritism, and unhealthy competitive nature that originates from fear and paranoia, poor communication, and a sense of being overworked and underappreciated.

Unfortunately, just up and leaving a toxic or abusive work environment is rarely a feasible option for victims of abuse so learning how to use the yellow rock method and keeping a detailed account of all forms of communication is the best way for you to go no contact when you work together.

Setting firm boundaries like the yellow rock method and keeping contemporaneous notes will allow you to develop the skillset needed to find a work environment where people feel respected and valued, conflicts are resolved by exhibiting empathy and self-awareness, there’s collaboration and integrity is valued, and successes are celebrated while hurdles are removed.


This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

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References:

An Interview Conducted Over Email With Lynn Catalano, Esq

Before You Secretly Record Your Shady Boss, Keep These 3 Things In Mind

DISCLAIMER

THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL CARE. 

IF YOU’RE IN THE UNITED STATES AND ARE SUFFERING DOMESTIC ABUSE, PLEASE CONTACT THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE AT 1.800.799.7233 OR YOU CAN VISIT THEIR WEBSITE FOR MORE HELPFUL CONTACT METHODS.

WE URGE YOU TO ENSURE YOU’RE IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT WHEN YOU DECIDE TO REACH OUT FOR HELP. FOR THOSE WHO CURRENTLY RESIDE IN THE UNITED STATES, VISIT NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE’S LOCAL RESOURCES TO FIND HELP IN YOUR AREA.

FOR THOSE OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES, BE SURE SAFELY REACH OUT TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES.