How to Survive a Toxic Workplace

Are you working in a toxic workplace environment where your coworkers, boss, or upper management make you think you need HAZMAT gear every day? Read on for our best survival tips.

They don’t call them toxic people for nothing, because they really can be bad for your health.

Even in the best of work environments, a job can be stressful; throw in a toxic boss, coworker or upper management team, and even a HAZMAT suit might not seem like enough protection. Here are some suggestions that can help.

As Mr. Rogers once said, “Look for the helpers.”

Who can you talk to? Sit down with your best friend, a parent, or a therapist, and get it all out. Getting things off your chest is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself when you work in a toxic workplace. But don’t go deep with this stuff with a coworker, even one you trust and respect.

Reason One: That trusted coworker just might let you down, and the negativity you share could get spread around with your name attached.

Reason Two: You’ve now become part of the problem, and your toxicity could spread to the person you’re venting to, even if they’re a willing participant. Worse, they could start spreading it too.

Take control of what you can in a toxic workplace

You have more control than you might think. Do everything possible to react to the awfulness around you in a healthy way. Make your work space your happy place to the greatest extent possible by keeping it neat and organized. Add a plant or even a nice, framed photo of your dog – anything that can reduce your stress and remind you that you have a life on the outside.

Remember why you’re really there.

Assuming there are things you like about your job, focus on them and doing your best work. Think in terms of the good things your job affords you, and look forward to them. Take a few minutes during a break to make a wish list of things you’d like to purchase for your home or apartment, keeping in mind that it’s your job that will make those purchases possible.

Plan Your Escape.

Don’t conduct job searches while sitting at your desk, but do think in terms of where you’d like to go next and what you need to do to get there. Need more professional development, a class, some training? See what you can do to be as ready as possible to make the leap when the opportunity arises.

A few other thoughts:

  • Take your full lunch break.
  • Meditate or go for a quick walk.
  • Have interests outside work and pursue them.
  • Try not to work evenings and weekends or any other time when you shouldn’t have to.
  • Clear up any misunderstandings promptly and professionally before they get worse.

Remember, this too shall pass. If the toxin is a coworker, maybe they’ll move on. If it’s a boss, maybe he or she will transfer somewhere else. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a better job and get the heck out of Dodge.

However it goes, you can survive this. We are here for you!

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