Being in the office is supposed to make you more productive. It should arm you with all the tools you need to make your tasks easier and communication more effective with stakeholders. But what happens when your workplace where you find inspiration becomes toxic?
A toxic work environment can be detrimental to one’s ability to perform his or her daily tasks. It makes you counterproductive, hampering your creative flow, and harmful to your over overall wellbeing.
How do you know if you’re reporting in a toxic workplace? More importantly, how can you cope with the unhealthy office culture without forcing yourself to resign from your position?
Workplace Signs of a Toxic Environment: Negative Communication
There are times when people fail to convey the right messages or misinterpret work actions. While it’s inevitable to have office mix-ups, negative communication almost always surfaces in a toxic workplace.
Even when the management encourages its employees to express their needs, voice their opinions, or provide suggestions most reasonably, people in toxic environments still communicate without regard for their colleagues’ feelings.
Some of them even deliberately hurt others and seek personal gain by aggressively delivering their message. They tend to intimidate others with their words and actions, not allowing them to freely speak their minds.
People in organizations come from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences. The differences in personalities can often make colleagues clash and eventually make the office atmosphere awkward.
Unprofessional colleagues are those people who can’t separate their work and personal lives. They often take constructive criticisms personally and won’t take any advice, especially when they know it is right.
Hostile co-workers are incredibly hard to deal with because they won’t treat you with respect even when you’re their manager.
While it is too much to expect for everyone to come to terms and agree with each other most of the time, unprofessional colleagues make it impossible to work peacefully in the office.
You’re Not Excited About Going To Work Anymore
Can you still remember your first week at work? It’s exciting to meet your new team, work in a modern office space, and take on new challenges.
When the environment is already toxic, you can’t help but feel stressed most of the time. Making it harder and harder to get out of bed and go to work. Also, you don’t have any motivation to finish your tasks on time, much less with good quality.
Sometimes you can’t point out what’s wrong, but you know that you’ll be more productive when you’re working outside the office. In a toxic work environment, you feel that your energy is always drained even when you’re not leaving your desk.
Your Work Is Preventing You From Growing
When you jump from one task to another, you aim to gain better experiences and grow your career.
However, a toxic workplace won’t allow that and never will.
Being in a hostile environment prevents you from reaching your goals because you’re distracted by office chaos.
You’re disturbed continuously by conflict within and among your teammates. Sometimes, your manager impedes your promotion because you’re not on good terms with them.
You tend to limit your actions because you believe that no one trusts your capabilities, and there’s no use exerting effort because you know that no one would listen to your opinion.
Your Gut Is Telling You To Leave
If every waking day you tell yourself that you don’t want to come to the office anymore, then your gut is telling you the best thing to do is leave.
Toxic workplaces can cause you more stress than your actual work does. If you think that there’s no better way to cut the stress out of your life and keep yourself from continually experiencing burnout, then maybe it’s time to make a tough decision.
Here’re some things to consider when dealing with the psychological pressure of a toxic workplace
1. Establish and Maintain Boundaries
Suppose you still want to keep your job despite the stress that comes with working in a toxic environment. You can choose to stay focused on your work and leave the office as soon as it is time to do so.
When you go to the office, make sure to make a list of everything you need to do and leave no room for entertaining gossip or tasks having nothing to do with your job.
It may seem impossible to separate yourself from the team, but look for a new productive location where people won’t be able to disturb you with irrelevant things.
Remember that other people’s issues are theirs to fix. Don’t let yourself be bothered by concerns that don’t involve you. Just focus on the tasks at hand and leave as your work day is complete.
2. Leave it at Work
If your time in the office is already causing too much stress, don’t let it also take over your personal life as well. The majority of the time, it’s better to keep issues within the interior walls of the office rather than bringing the stress home with you.
Suppose you’re frequently experiencing work exhaustion because you are still sending emails beyond the regular office hours. You need to maintain the attitude that Rome was not built in a day, so whatever doesn’t get done today can be taken care of tomorrow.
If you can leave all office issues at work, then do it. Try not to mix your personal and work problems; otherwise, you won’t be able to fix both.
3. Keep Motivational Thoughts Within Eyesight
Sometimes, a little nudge will help you stay on track with your goals. Little motivational notes will help you shift your thoughts from negative to positive ones.
Always remind yourself why you’re still employed in the company: maybe you need to support your family, pay the bills, or save up for an international trip.
Create notes that will motivate you to work harder and have no time for negative thoughts. These notes can be quotes from your favorite author or a photograph that reminds you of where you want to be in the future.
Make sure that you place these notes within eyesight so you’ll always be reminded. It may not help you solve your biggest challenges, but it will help you gain inspiration to keep going.
4. Make Positive Thinking a Habit
Toxic work environments can be stressful, and it only urges you to think negatively–whether you’re in or outside the office.
If you make it a habit to practice thinking positively, you will begin to look at things differently.
You will see every challenge as an opportunity for growth. Furthermore, you’ll realize that dealing with difficult colleagues helps you understand what motivates people to do a specific action.
When you practice optimism, you’ll be able to understand people and situations better. Everything becomes more transparent, and you’ll be able to see that not all issues are worth your time, energy, and worry.
It may be easier said than done, but it can radically change your life. Once you’re able to control your thoughts, you’ll be able to choose the battles that are meant to help you grow.
5. Stay focused on important goals
It’s challenging to stay focused on your work, especially when toxic people surround you. If you don’t have plans to quit your job yet, make sure to try every possible way to commit to your tasks at hand.
If you need to ask your boss if you can work from home temporarily, then do it. Assure your manager that you’ll be able to accomplish what needs to be done when you’re outside the office.
Create a to-do list that’s realistic and doable. Start your day by jotting down the two most important tasks, and then write down the next five things you need to finish for the day.
That way, you can stay focused on important goals and keep yourself from distractions.
6. Strive for a strong work-life balance
The key to achieving a healthy work-life balance is learning how to manage your time efficiently so you can avoid prioritizing work over your personal needs and vice versa.
If work is too much to handle and you’re no longer getting enough sleep, talk to your boss about it. Be open about your needs to avoid any misunderstanding with your supervisor or your team.
Sometimes, quitting is not the option to rid yourself of office toxicity. Sometimes you need to find the balance between what you do at work and what you do outside of it.
Everyone has a role to play in creating a productive work environment
It’s not only your job to make sure that colleagues and managers are productive, engaged, motivated, and happy in the workplace. Everyone is called to acknowledge their colleagues’ welfare to ensure that the team generates the best outcomes.
Are you noticing any signs of a toxic workplace in your organization? Please share with us your experiences in the comment section below.
If you are struggling to keep it together and at your wits end, click here to schedule a free Discovery session with Coach Margaret.
More About the Author
By Margaret Williams
Margaret is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Professional Coaching. She’s been coaching women by helping them discover their talents, develop these skills, and manage their stress levels to reach their fullest potential and live their dreams. She’s a Certified Associate Coach with the International Coach Federation and a Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. When she’s not coaching, Margaret reading, listening to music, or lounging at the beach.