The Toxic Workplace

You began your job eager and passionate for growth and a chance to use your skills and talents in a collegial environment, so how did you end up so stressed-out, cynical and depressed? By Matt Schofield

Why are so many of your coworkers in a bad mood so often? And why do fear and distrust seem to permeate the organization? The answer is that your workplace is toxic, and on a day-to-day basis, it’s putting your health at risk.

But how do you tell if your workplace is really toxic, a worse than normal place to work or just a normally stressful work environment? What are the signs of a toxic workplace? Can you determine if your workplace is toxic by identifying with some of the issues listed:

1. Widespread anger and frustration

2. Workplace bully is admired

3. Scapegoats are always blamed

4. Dysfunctional relationships

5. Dysfunctional meetings

6. Abusive Bosses

7. Overly restrictive systems

8. Incompetent HR manager

9. Unfairness.

Any one of these issues indicates a toxic environment and should not be tolerated. And if you have identified with one or more of the above, your workplace may be dangerously poisonous. Emotionally, we become more discouraged which can lead to depression. For some, they are more irritable, “touchy”, and demonstrate problems managing their anger. Others experience anxiety and a general sense of dread when they think about work. You know your workplace is affecting you negatively when your friends and family start to make comments on “how you’ve changed”, or “you seem stressed” and ”maybe you need to talk to someone.” When our personal relationships are impacted, it is time to take a serious look at what is going on.

What can we do? How you respond to any of these problem areas depends on you, on the level of threat the situation poses and on the supportiveness of the company.

Here are just a few things you can do to make things a little easier in the workplace:

Realize That You Have No Control

The first thing you have to realize or understand, is that you literally have no control over others in a toxic workplace. You cannot control what they say or do, you can only control yourself and how you react to things. If you have already gone to your superiors about toxic behaviors in your workplace and to no avail, chances are, either they don’t know what to do about it, or they themselves are part of the problem.

Do The Best Job That You Can Do

It can be very easy to fall into the trap of “why do I bother” but don’t do it. Continue doing your job to the best of your ability, no matter what anyone else does or says. Keep this foremost in your mind, that what happens in a toxic workplace does not define who you are. It is NOT a reflection of who you are. It is simply, a situation that you are in.

Leave A Toxic Workplace

The best thing that you can do, is to leave the toxic workplace and do it as fast as you can! Get your CV polished and make it shine, and get it out in front of potential employers. But what about in the meantime or if you are not in a position to be able to leave your job?

Document, Document, Document

With today’s technology, this is not as hard as it used to be. Document the work that you do and document any time you are told to do something out of the norm. Document if you have to call in sick, who you talked to and what time you called. Document any problems that you have gone to any managers about, again, who, what, when and where. If you routinely interact with clients or customers and there are any issues, document what you do about it or who you speak to about it.

Set Up Escape Time

When you have to work in a toxic workplace, you need to set up some escape time. What I mean by that, is a time, even if for five minutes, that you can escape and breathe in some fresh air. Maybe it’s just taking a very short walk outside or taking a walk around another floor in your building. Find a quiet spot somewhere and take 5 minutes to get away from it all.

Put Your Networking Skills Into Overdrive

With all of our social media usage in this day and age, this makes it even easier for us to do just that. Grow your network while you are polishing that CV and get your ducks in a row for when the time is right for you to leave your toxic workplace.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that you cannot fix other people. You can help yourself. You have choices. Yes… You do. It is not you, it is not about you. Do not let this situation, which is temporary, define who you are, or your life. Plan your work and work your plan. Plan your way out of this toxic workplace and then follow through! Visualise yourself the day you are able to walk out that door, a smile on your face and a bounce in your step as you move on to a better, non-toxic work environment.

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