“Monday Blues” are for real, and a majority of us dread these like hell. As a matter of fact, a lot of us are stuck in jobs that we don’t particularly enjoy doing. This often leads to an overwhelming feeling of rushing to one’s manager’s cabin and throwing that resignation letter right in front of him/her. All thanks to the toxic work environment at a number of workplaces. Only if quitting a job was that easy!
Do you too wake up every morning and dread to go to the office? Do you detest the politics and drama that goes on in your office? If yes, you, my friend, are a victim of a highly toxic workplace without you having even the slightest idea of the same! However, this shouldn’t be a surprise because it happens in a majority of companies!
When it comes to being a victim of a toxic workplace, you are not alone. You will be surprised to know that a recent research has thrown light on the shocking fact of how 53 percent of employees all over the world are currently unhappy at work. As a matter of fact, if you detested homework at school, you are bound to hate this as well.
Now the question is what defines a toxic workplace? In case, you have no idea of what an unhealthy worklplace looks like, here are the various characteristics that define one:
- Lack of appreciation from your boss
- A lot of pressure to get short term results
- Groupism and back-bitching
- Significant drama and infighting
- Personal battles among mean-spirited employees
- Lack of a clarity of vision
- Lack of a good leader
- Unprofessional colleagues
- An absence of work-life balance
Haley Denver, a Human Resource expert, defines a poisonous work environment as one that cultivates bullying, backbiting, and unhealthy competition. If you are a part of a workplace that has too much of political manipulations going on, we hear you. We understand how difficult it is to deal with an unappreciative boss and unyielding managers. Add to that, there is relentless backbiting and snitching that just does not let you breathe easy.
According to a survey, it has been found out that working in a toxic workplace can lead to physical and mental health issues. Stress from a toxic work environment can lead to lowered self-confidence due to continuous bullying and emotional shaming. Studies have proved that people stressed from their jobs are more likely to develop smoking and drinking habits. Not just this, people tend to eat more due to all of this stress hence leading to a deteriorated physical health. The consequences of toxicity in a workplace are not just limited to a person’s physical health. A person who is subjected to a dangerous work ambiance turns bitter due to the stress. When this stress builds up inside a person for a long time, he is at a potential risk of suffering from mood swings, short-temper and eventually depression!
Working in a toxic environment can adversely affect your power of concentration and may lead to a weakened immune system. As a result, you cannot give in your 100% at work. The best solution to this is to get out of the toxic situation as soon as possible. However, for various commitments and obligations, it becomes difficult for you to leave your job all of a sudden. So, we suggest you fight and survive through the ordeal and emerge out as a winner.
Here is a list of DOs and DONTs that you need to keep in mind to fight back the toxicity at your workplace.
Instead of whining about the workload or the ambiance and the people in it, try to see the good in everybody. Irrespective of all the bullying and misbehavior, you go about with a smile on your face and try to appreciate others. Yes! I know – however easy it may sound, practicing it in real life can be quite a challenging task. But you must understand that continuous exposure to negativity can make you feel even more miserable. Try and keep yourself away from all kinds of negative discussions. Since you are a victim of toxicity, do not engage in speaking ill of others. Instead, we suggest you draw up a list of all the good points about your job. Enjoy the free coffee and Wi-Fi and the gym facilities. This will help you shift your perception and feel more relaxed.
While a healthy dose of competition can promote efficiency, aggressive pulling down and snitching amongst co-workers can create a disturbing environment and can disrupt harmony. Rather than being a part of the ruthless rat race, stay away from the bandwagon and do your work at your own pace. Do not try to bring others down and sincerely try to bond with your colleagues. While in the malignant ambiance, do not lose sight of who you are. Be true to yourself and do not give in. Easier said than done, I know. But, keep up the fight and do not let the virulent people around you make you one of them. If anything, you should grow stronger so that you can transcend all levels of bullying so that none of this can affect you.
Make allies and stop the war
An average working hour’s span is of 8 hours. Imagine bottling up every emotion and not talking to anyone from 9 to 5? That is just impossible! You cannot stay without interacting with people around you for that long a period. But if you feel that the people around you are selfish and judgmental, we suggest you build your own tribe within the office to deal with them. Cornering yourself in the office and isolating yourself completely can just add on to your stress. When you have someone in the office that you can vent out your feelings to, it becomes easier to deal with the bad air within the office. When we say a friend, it does not mean someone you can hang around with. But someone you can trust enough to share a wavelength with. Support each other and understand each other’s frustrations. When you get a partner, it helps you to handle the ordeal in a better way.
Create your own space
To counter the negativity surrounding you, create your own zone where you can feel more relaxed. Adorn your workstation or cubicle with things that make you happy. Pinup photos of your friends and people who matter to you. This will help you deal with anxiety triggers and exude positive energy. Write your goals on post-its and pin them up on your dashboard to remind yourself what you are there for. Hang posters of inspirational sayings that soothe you. Do everything to tell yourself who you are and to feel loved and appreciated while in a toxic work zone. Try to find a cubicle away from the din of your colleagues so that you can miss out on the negative discussions that go on all the time.
Make a habit of documenting each and every bit of work that you do. This habit should be inculcated even if your work atmosphere is not toxic. This will help you survive your professional life like a pro. That’s because when you have a proof of all that you claim, none of your managers or colleagues can brush-off their mistakes on to you. Make sure that you save and organize every email related to every project you work on. Further, ensure that you note down everything during meetings and on phone calls. Keeping a track of your work not only helps in your growth but also comes out to be a foolproof weapon whenever somebody tries to blame you for their mistakes!
Proper communication can solve problems in a jiffy! Do not underestimate the value of excellent communication. Instead of keeping things bottled up, just go up to the person in question and sort it out. Keeping things within will make it grow bigger, and if you do not let it out, it can cause a lot of mental stress. At times, a candid conversation can immediately sort out something without any complications. So communicate more to simplify things around you.
Decompress your frustration:
And when I talk about releasing your stress, mind it, I am talking about doing it during your day at the office and not bottling it up till the end of the day. Give yourself a break every once in a while. Consider taking out time for things that give you pleasure like reading a quote book, doing meditation, going out for a 5-10 minutes stroll or simply having a cup of coffee with your friends. Just make sure that you do not think about the toxic work environment for those10-15 minutes.
Take your work home
Quite recently, Amazon India’s head, Amit Agarwal, has asked employees not to respond to office emails after their working hours. It is okay to choose to work overtime, but that should not be a reoccurring thing. Do not take the pressure home as that will mean you are bringing the negativity along with you into your home. This might affect your work – life harmony and can add on to your stress. Continuous slogging can give rise to anxiety and can make you bitter. So keep your workload to the ambit of your workplace and devote enough time to your social life too. Go out and enjoy a movie or a night out with friends to unwind. Do things that will help you to forget about the problems you face at work?
Believe everything you hear
Since a toxic workplace is all about backbiting and spreading rumors, we suggest you do not focus on everything you hear around you. It is just a part of grapevine, and everything is just a game of Chinese whispers. So take it easy and learn to differentiate facts from stories. Do not believe everything that you hear about yourself and do not take them to heart and brood over it. Instead of wasting your energy to locate the sources of the rumor, just breathe easy and learn to ignore such stories. Believe something only when you see or hear it for yourself.
Participate In Drama
Keep unnecessary drama as far as you can. Do not welcome unwanted discussions amongst your co-workers about another colleague. Steer clear from such people who over criticise and shame people. To keep the negativity at bay, do not engage in gossip. Keep in mind that you too can be their victim once you turn your back on them. Whenever you feel that things are becoming complicated, choose to step out of the group and walk away.
Plan your exit in advance:
It’s very easy to quit a job right away rather than sticking to it and tolerating all the drama over and over again. The best thing to do in such a situation is to plan your exit from the company and have a list of options to redeem your career once you are out of the toxic environment. Be mentally prepared for your departure and have your entire future strategy ready before you sign your resignation letter.
Once you’ve tried everything possible to cope up with the unhealthy work environment at your office but still you are at the same place, finding it too hard to deal with the stress, you can talk to the HR department for a solution. They will undoubtedly have a way out for you. And, if you think that the stress has taken a toll on you, we recommend you to seek professional help from a counselor. At the end of the day, remember that you are a fighter and you can see through the bad time!
Author Bio: Gracie Anderson, a career coach and counselor, extends study help to students of psychology through My Assignment Help. Besides being a passionate artist, she loves to travel around the world.