Thanks to widespread education and awareness, mental health in the workplace is talked about now more than ever before. But that doesn’t stop many workers from finding themselves struggling to survive in a toxic work environment and trying to collaborate with toxic personalities.
If you find yourself in the epicenter of a toxic workplace, it can be overwhelming. The negative tendrils reach out and impact every corner of your life. As author Gary Chapman puts it,
“When a workplace becomes toxic, its poison spreads beyond its walls and into the lives of its workers and their families.”
However, it doesn’t have to be like this. We can all overcome the challenges of a toxic workplace. Let’s take a look at how.
Before we can deal with a toxic workplace, we must identify that we are in one. While this may seem obvious, many of us weather the storm of toxicity, dismissing it as “just how things are.”
There are three clear warning signs that you are in a toxic environment:
- You have no rights.
Many organizations don’t take their employees and their opinions seriously, which leads to discrimination and unfair treatment.
- The company leads through fear.
If employees are motivated by fear, they will feel unsafe in their jobs. Furthermore, fear-based leadership can be a slippery slope towards promoting other negative workplace tendencies such as aggressive competition between employees.
- The company considers profits above all.
It’s no secret that companies are looking to make a profit. However, it is a huge red flag when that comes at the cost of their employee’s well–being.
Surviving a Toxic Workplace
Feeling stuck in a toxic workplace can be crushing, mostly because it often feels like we are powerless to change it. But that needn’t be the case. These tips can help to navigate a toxic workplace.
1. Make others aware of your situation.
The first step towards conquering toxicity is to make others aware of how you feel. Whether you start with a family member, partner, friend or close co-worker, it’s important to bring your feelings out into the open. Perhaps the most valuable part of this can be finding out that you are not alone in your feelings.
2. Find co-workers you can trust.
Finding pillars of support at your workplace is invaluable for weathering the storm of toxicity. Keeping a network, no matter how small, of trusted co-workers will provide this support. It will also give you ways to keep the toxicity at arm’s length.
3. Keep your cool.
While workplace toxicity makes us all want to lash out at the worst offenders, we all know that would only add to the pool of toxicity. Thus, keeping a level head during the toughest times can help to steady the ship. Even if that means finding a quiet place to cool off, don’t be afraid to do just that.
4. Ensure communication channels stay open.
Many of us react to negativity and toxicity by closing off. However, by closing communication channels and potential support networks, we only isolate ourselves further. Of course, you’re not expected to openly reach out to toxic coworkers. Nonetheless, keeping communication channels open can help to ease tensions and may be a way to find those key co-workers you can trust.
5. Focus on your goals.
While poor social relations can bring us down, it’s worth remembering why we’re at work in the first place—to achieve goals and complete tasks. Foregrounding your tasks can distance you from the toxic drama and allow you to stay productive through it all.
More Ways of Surviving a Toxic Workplace
6. Be the positive voice in the room.
With tensions flaring all around you, it can be easy to be dragged down. But you’d be surprised how much impact a few words of positivity can have on others. As author Gary Chapman wrote, “We all need support, in the workplace and beyond it. When we both give and receive [it], we stand a much better chance of survival.”
7. Be aware (and forgiving) when burnout kicks in.
Toxic workplaces are a one-way ticket to burnout. So, if you haven’t arrived there yet, chances are that you will. When this happens, it’s important to recognize it for what it is and be forgiving to yourself, even if nobody around you is.
8. Maintain a strong work-life balance.
Workplace toxicity should stay in the workplace, but it often doesn’t. Instead, it can seep into weekends, close relationships and our very being. We need to avoid this at all costs. This can be achieved by ensuring you set clear boundaries, both for yourself and your co-workers/employer.
9. Search for better.
It may feel like you are stuck in your toxic workplace with nowhere else to go, but you aren’t. Searching for alternatives sets you on the path to escaping a toxic workplace, while simultaneously providing you with a personal goal to look forward to.
10. Remember that you’re more than your job.
Work may take up the majority of our daylight hours each week, but that doesn’t mean we have to be defined by it. Be sure to keep your passions and life goals in sight, and actively pursue them. After all, for many of us, our job is simply a way to make ends meet, so it shouldn’t be allowed to consume our entire lives.
Surviving a toxic workplace is not an easy thing to do, but these tips will help you to stay afloat. You can also check out these books to help you deal with adversity in the workplace. Remember, keeping a positive attitude in the face of a toxic workplace will go a long way. It will save your mental energy for the more important things in life while simultaneously putting you in the best stead to find, and secure, a better position.