How To Survive A Toxic Work Environment
Updated: Jul 16
How to stay professional when your co-worker’s a B——
Just kidding! One of the hardest parts of building your career is ...well...staying professional.
I don’t mean wearing slacks and pumps and showing up to the office on time either...
I mean keeping your emotions in check when everyone around you sucks — big time.
What do you do, when Laura from accounting keeps eating your lunch, or Mike from IT won’t stop loud-talking in the cubicle right next to you. How do you stay calm when your boss is so condescending that every time they talk you just want to scream, “Can you please disappear?!?”
I once had a co-worker who kind of just decided she was everyone’s boss! She wasn’t actually appointed to a leadership role or anything...but she sure acted like it.
She scolded our team when we didn’t operate up to her standards. Took log of the time we spend working. Berated us when she felt like we could be more “dedicated” to the team (aka work more unpaid hours).
Needless to say, she was horrible!
Unfortunately, I loved the job enough to stay on way longer than I should have, but during my time there, I really struggled internally with something we’ve all experienced at one point or another...
How do we stay professional when you’re one passive-aggressive email away from throwing the whole job in the trash?
Believe me, it’s hard.
That’s why we’ve compiled 4 tips for surviving a toxic work environment:
1. Maintain your work-life balance
The beauty of work is that it only lasts for a set number of hours. Once the proverbial “5 o clock” hits, it’s time to go! Sometimes at work, we feel pressure to go above and beyond (which is great!); but in the end, we have to take care of us.
Establishing boundaries, (like not coming in early or staying late, not working on the weekends, or not responding to your boss at all hours of the day) are essential to keeping your work and personal life separate. Make sure you leave work at work to keep the toxicity to a minimum!
2. Engage in positive distractions
Work may be toxic but that doesn’t mean you have to take toxic home with you! Find hobbies or after-hours activities to help you unwind (and forget the drama) when you leave the job.
3. Avoid drama
One of the best (but worst) parts of being on a job, is gossiping with your co-workers! But believe it or not, that helps fuel the toxicity. Try to avoid getting drawn into the drama or chatter about a toxic employee or boss. Negativity breeds negativity so constantly hearing stories about the drama at work only reinforces the toxicity in your life.
4. File a formal complaint
I know this is the last thing most of us want to do. But if it gets to the point where you feel like you need to quit, it may be time to let your boss or HR know what’s been happening. While this may not always end with the result you want, it doesn’t hurt to try! In the end, it can only make the situation better...or I guess worse.
Which leads me to my last point!
If your environment gets SO bad that it’s affecting your real life, then don’t be afraid to consider making an exit strategy.
In the end, a job is exactly that...a job! Nothing is worth your health or emotional well being. You owe it to yourself to be happy... or at least not miserable... in every part of your life.
So leave the toxicity in 2020 (I mean this whole year is canceled anyway) and focus your energy towards embracing positivity!