Here is how to succeed in a toxic work environment

Have you settled for a job where the work environment is toxic?  At one point you may have worked or met the jealous assistant, the arrogant head of department or the passive, nasty boss. Such co-workers bring nothing to you except negativity, making your work harder than it is supposed to be.

Working in a toxic space can grow on you. Most people find themselves stuck with co-workers that negatively drain their energy yet they have no control of the situation.

According to Sandra Asingwire, a counsellor at New Dawn wellness, a toxic work environment is as bad as breathing in bad air because it ends in sickness and depression.

“It depends on where the toxicity is coming from. If it is the people in top positions, then it is out of your control but if it is an individual, roundtable talk can work,’’ Asingwire says.

She also recommended that workplaces have a strict code of conduct that is respected by every employee and breaking it means punishment or suspension. This will help prevent bullies and disrespectful workers taking advantage.

Oftentimes, the advice given to people in such situations is to quit and look elsewhere. However, running away isn’t necessarily always the solution. How about standing strong and finding ways to face this problem or changing the situation where possible? Not everyone is going to have a plan B and thus maintaining peace of mind and sense of calm is very important.

How to identify a toxic work environment:

  • Employees who bully and show superiority while making others serve them unwillingly.
  • Harassment; where workers are coerced or threatened into undesirable behaviour without their consent.
  • Threatening behaviour by bosses.
  • Disrespect and lack of code of conduct – This means there is no way to justify and control poor behaviour.
  • Too much gossip – Some co-workers hold grudges against each other and there is always exchange of words and gossip.
  • Clique behaviour – Workers identify themselves a certain way and form cliques to separate themselves from the rest.
  • Sabotaging boss character – A boss who sets workers up for failure intentionally.
  • Low pay/salary and no chance of increment.
  • Unreasonable workloads.
  • A boss who continuously threatens to fire employees.
  • Lack of career growth opportunities.
  • Unnecessary and non-constructive criticism.
  • Unpredictable schedule – nothing is planned and thus a boss can decide to open up office on Sunday and make it compulsory to report.

These and many others are signs of toxicity in a workplace. Accepting a given job opportunity, make it a point to check the list and ensure you’re going into a workplace that supports growth, has a code of conduct, recognises and rewards effort.

As many people are not aware of how such an environment can affect their mental health, they become slaves to the job. If you cannot quit, here are steps for you to cope positively.

  1. Stop negative self-talk

Label the workplace as a place you go to for a few hours and don’t let the noise get to you. Remember that how we react to things that happen to us is a choice. First, you must put an end to negative self-talk because it produces frustration and anxiety. Whereas the negativity at your job isn’t your responsibility, having a positive and collaborative mind-set is solely your role. Stop seeing yourself as the least useful, intelligent person and start contributing, moving with your head held high so that you are empowered to take ownership of the situation.

  • Make lunch break your reset time

If the workplace environment frustrates you, make lunch time your peace time. Find a place outside work that you can go to and relax away from the drama. Nature is usually the best cure for a tired mind. Find a park, garden or restaurant that will motivate and inspire new energy to get you through the day.

  • Avoid workplace drama

There will always be those co-workers who are well known for drama, the ones who gossip about the boss, who know everyone’s secret, who hate every intern and those who are capable of bringing fire down upon the desk. Don’t participate in anything that goes against the rule of being a good employee. You would rather you be the ‘weirdo’ who never says anything in such times.

  • Focus on what is important

What is your goal? Why did you accept this job? Ask yourself these questions daily. Finding a new job can be as tasking as keeping it, there are meant to be challenges, no job is smooth. How you deal with the challenges is what makes it yielding for you. Find your peace in the turbulence. If it’s a co-worker that drains your energy, limit your interaction. In your free time, pray or listen to music instead of engaging in meaningless conversations.

  • Don’t settle

Settling is when you make a permanent abode with what was meant to be temporary in your journey. Be it the toxicity or the job itself; as long as it was not part of the original plan, don’t settle.

Release negativity and create a relaxing environment

It is easier to concentrate on work by eliminating the distractions; be it people or other associations that are not constructive or positive. This will help you commit and take action on the areas where you are lacking. Letting go also creates space for the good things to come.

Finding peace in a toxic workplace comes from the heart and deciding what won’t and what will affect you. Develop your sense of peace, change your mind and you will thrive.


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