How to Deal with a Toxic Work Environment

Nothing can sap a dedicated and hardworking employee’s energy more than a toxic work environment full of undesirable co-workers, impersonal managers, and ineffective management practices.

While all jobs have their fair share of stresses and shortcomings, some jobs just come with so much negativity that makes the entire workplace unbearable. In such cases, you could be experiencing more than just stress—you could already be working in a toxic work environment. We at Resumeble want to make you aware of the signs, and what you can do about them.

What is a toxic work environment exactly?

Toxic Work Environment

It goes without saying that no one wants to work in a toxic workplace. Here are the six red flags telling you that yours is an unhealthy place for work:

• Negative communication - the main reason behind poorly run companies, negative communication often leads to confusion among employees.

• Narcissistic managers - nobody has the right to belittle you, even your boss. Managers that don’t treat their employees as their equal will only drive employees away sooner.

• Office drama reigns - dysfunction is counterproductive in the workplace. If there’s no genuine camaraderie among employees, and everyone seems only to be out for themselves, infighting and paranoia are the likely results.

• Lack of growth and recognition - good companies evolve, and employees evolve along with them. If there’s no word from management or HR discussing promotions, raises, and new challenges for its people, you could be working for a stagnant company, or worse, one that doesn’t care about the growth of its people.

• You start dreading coming to work - if you’re passionate about your work, losing ‘that loving feeling’ for it is something that shouldn’t happen, but a toxic work environment will leave you too tired, depressed, or sick to do something you love doing.

• Everyone appears unhappy - an office that upholds high working standards will reflect on the face of its employees. Contrarily, a toxic work environment will have people showing up miserable and lacking motivation.

Do any of these sound all too familiar? If quitting is not a luxury or an immediate possibility, know that there are steps that you can take to improve your situation. True, some toxic work environments are just impossible to fix, but figuring out how to keep it from affecting your personal life can make all the difference, at least, until you’re finally ready to move on to a better job.

Here are six ways on how to deal with a toxic work environment.

1. Start your workday positively

Do your best to go to work in high spirits. Try to get a few minutes of good exercise before heading off. Practice positive morning thoughts, and think of something to look forward to. You’re more likely to be in a good mood for the rest of the day if you have a positive mindset at the start of it.

2. Keep your mind off work until you get there

Stop checking your work emails and messages when you’re out of the office. Since you work in a toxic environment, it’s possible that anything job-related can instantly put you in a bad mood. Avoid engaging with work more than you should, and you’ll be able to keep the stress and negativity to a minimum. To further detach yourself from work, you can also engage in social activities during your free time, such as going on weekend vacations, having get-togethers with family and friends, or indulging in a hobby, to avoid work-related thoughts or emotions during your off days.

3. Steer clear of toxic colleagues

Toxic co-workers are difficult to work with or be around for prolonged periods. That’s because they have the power to negatively affect your job performance and even ruin your career if you keep mingling with them. Avoid negative people at work where possible. Don’t talk to them during lunches or breaks, and even happy hours and office events that they are attending with you. If interactions are necessary, keep these brief.

4. Make friends with great co-workers

Just as negative employees can drain you, positive colleagues can bring a boost of energy and life. Find people with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings in a productive manner, and strengthen your relationships with them. When you have great friends supporting you at work, your environment can only become a more positive place.

5. Document negative situations

Time may come that you will need to file a complaint, and you’re going to need evidence to back your claim. Save emails, write down impactful comments, and if you can, record your phone calls or take a video of your negative interactions. With these documentations, you ensure you have all the proof you need to for your complaint to move forward and not get dismissed outright.

6. Have an exit strategy

A toxic work environment can take years to fix. As they say, you can hope for the best, but you better be prepared for the worst. No matter how much you love your work, if you find that your health and sanity are being tested day in and day out, then you need to prepare yourself to leave your job and find a new, more fulfilling, and rewarding company. Let your close confidantes know that you’re looking for new work opportunities. Get in touch with recruiters quietly, and tap your professional network for potential leads. Send your applications selectively—out of respect, you certainly don’t want your company finding out what you’re doing. Keep your exit strategy on the down-low until you’re ready to submit your resignation letter.

Working in a healthy and thriving workplace can make you happier and more motivated in your career, and so this is something you should always strive for in a work environment. If you don’t like where you are, start updating your cover letter and resume soon. This ensures that you can quickly apply for other available jobs and keep you from putting off your job hunt, especially if you don’t know how long to stay in a toxic work environment that you’re in.

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