It’s hard as hell to go to work every day when you literally dread every minute of it. You already know how the shift will go. In fact, you even know all the drama that happened on your day off and worry about how people will act. Throw some extra anxiety on top and mix it with all your coworker’s emotions and you got yourself a recipe for a bad workplace. While you may want to throw in the towel and quit immediately, it isn’t always a realistic choice when you have bills to pay. But there are a few ways you can help with coping or helping to improve your toxic work environment.
1. Identify the sources of unhappiness and toxicity.
Yes, you may feel like your work environment is toxic as hell. However, you may just feel generally unhappy with your job and looking for any excuse to complain. If you experience a bad day every once in a while, that’s normal at any workplace. But if it’s a daily occurrence, you should evaluate all the negativity you sense. Identify workplace bullies, Negative Nancys, and those who steal from others to climb the corporate ladder. Identifying these sources can help you better understand the toxicity in your workplace and avoid it.
2. Disengage emotionally when you feel overwhelmed.
When you feel consumed by the drama and negativity, disengage emotionally as quickly as you can. Don’t react. and focus solely on working. (After all, that’s what you are there to do.) You can’t change others but you can change others’ behaviours when you lead by example. Negative people thrive on equally negative reactions. When you put your blinders on and avoid reacting, they’ll either move onto a new victim or just shut down themselves.
3. Speak to management about the work environment.
Passivity towards poor treatment will not change anything. In fact, conditions will probably worsen if there is no resistance. That’s why you should get your manager, supervisor, or HR involved. Yelling and getting upset won’t generate the response you want, so handle the situation privately in a calm manner. They need to understand your concerns and how others are negatively affecting the workplace in big ways. And if your boss is the problem, go to someone higher, even if they are a stranger.
4. Set boundaries for yourself.
If you notice your manager making unreasonable demands or your time or throwing you under the bus at every opportunity, establish boundaries for yourself. Firmly let them know you cannot do what they are expecting. If they change your schedule last minute and put you on a day you weren’t scheduled, tell them you can’t come in. That’s not your problem. They didn’t ask for your permission. Set boundaries for yourself so that you don’t become a doormat.
5. Don’t take everything personally.
Often times toxicity stems from the management down. Even when it doesn’t affect you directly, remember it’s probably management’s fault that it happened. It can be tough when you feel like you have a bullseye on your forehead. By changing your response to the intimidating, disrespectful behaviour, you alter their behaviour too.
Ignoring workplace toxicity will get you nowhere but make you feel emotionally overloaded. Your hands may tremble, your voice may shake, and you may shed a few frustrated tears, but taking a stand against a toxic workplace will empower you like never before. Remember, you can’t change how people act, but you can always change how you react, and that can cause a chain reaction.