A toxic work environment is one that negatively affects your well-being, causing you stress, anxiety and worry. It’s one in which politics, gossip, fighting, manipulation, blackmail and emotional abuse occur on a regular basis. This could be caused by your manager, your team or the wider office culture. You learnt about the various signs of a toxic workplace, let’s focus on simple & actionable ways to overcome a toxic workplace.
76% of millennials cite toxic workplaces as work stress as their primary source of stress. But not even 50% of these are able to do anything about it as they are not equipped to handle it. Here, we look at ways you can overcome and navigate a toxic workplace.
How to overcome a toxic work environment:
Toxic colleagues are one of the biggest challenges to deal with every day. Having some sort of tactics or approaches to make sure you don’t get sucked into the toxicity they bring is key.
- The first thing to do is not to take the bait with toxic employees. Usually, toxic colleagues are trying to get a rise out of you by behaving the way they do. It could be not keeping you in the loop in an email, gossipping about you or your team or being plain difficult. No matter what happens try to stay polite and quiet and resist giving them a rise. The phrase is killing them with kindness, and you do exactly that. If a toxic person realises he’s having no effect on you, chances are they’ll stop bothering you.
- The next step is to make sure you have a good support system at work. This is integral in overcoming a toxic workplace. Find a colleague or friend who you know isn’t toxic and strike up a bond with them. Finding support to share the toxicity that you both may experience can help you navigate through it better. A support system is good for your mental and physical well-being and it always helps to have a friend with you.
- Now that you have a support system and are not taking the bait, keep your interactions limited with the toxic groups. If you dislike gossip, make sure to distance yourself if it’s happening around you. If groupism and gossip isn’t for you, stay away. Any interaction you have, make sure you ask them close-ended questions. If you’re waiting for a client to follow up with a toxic colleague – rather than saying “Let me know when the client replies”, ask “Has the client replied?”. Make sure it’s yes or no so that there’s no chance of lying to you as it can hamper their reputation. And try and interact only on your emails or official instant messaging channels like Slack or Google hangouts so there’s always a record and you can’t be manipulated
How to overcome a toxic workplace with toxic managers
Toxic bosses or managers can make your life a living hell. They can control your day to day activities and create an intense workload for you while affecting your well being off working hours as well and in other aspects such as appraisals, work-life balance and holidays! So how can you make sure you’re doing your best to navigate their toxicity and overcome a toxic workplace?
- Make sure you document everything you do. From the work you’re completing, when you’re submitting assignments and the conversations you’re having with your managers. This way, your performance, dedication and effort cannot be questioned and if you’re being gaslit, one of the most toxic traits of a bad manager, you always have a record of every interaction. If you specifically emailed saying your work is done and the manager needs to review it, but delayed it and then blames you, the email will help you stay on the right side. You can even be loud about it. State the fact that you’re documenting a conversation or meeting so toxic managers know they can’t manipulate the encounter and will have to maintain boundaries.
- Speaking of, boundaries are the next best thing you can create to ease your pain and pressure. Create direct boundaries with your managers and teammates. If you’re going to be unavailable during weekends, that’s not a problem, it’s how it should be. Make it clear that you’re unable to do work over a weekend as it’s your personal time off and can’t be contacted at all. Get prior approvals, send out an email or make it your status so you can’t be contacted later. Even during office days, make sure you tell people you are busy post 8 pm or whatever time works for you. Toxic managers thrive at creating toxic work environments where boundaries are non-existent, allowing them to let you do more and more work which may not even be part of your key performance areas and overburden you. Make sure all your social media profiles are private and remember that managers aren’t your friends. Keeping these boundaries will give you a chance to spend time on yourself post working hours and give you time to recharge and reset.
- Taking that time to disconnect from work and its toxicity can help you as well. While a toxic manager may not push you over the edge, it’ll be good to step aside for a while to recuperate and weave in all these ideas into your daily plan. A week off from work could help you recharge and manage your mental health. Often, the stress of a toxic workplace can cause burnout or lead to a lot of turmoil. A get away from all of it cannot be underestimated. You may feel a bit conflicted as it feels like running away or your bad boss might not allow it, but this is the moment to put your foot down and make yourself a priority.
- Speaking of priorities, take a second to reflect on your workplace. Are there many toxic people at a senior level? Do the office practices enable these people and do a lot of your colleagues feel the same way as you? If so, there’s a high chance that this workplace culture is highly toxic and enables the ones in power to do as they please. And what you need to do is prioritise getting yourself out of it. No senior position, pay raise or title is worth a toxic and suffocating workplace which can adversely affect your mental and personal well being. Create an action plan to plan your exit. From sprucing up your resume, narrowing down people from the office who can give you a reference and looking for a new job. Start saving up money, making a note of your work and accomplishments and creating a 1-2 month plan of how you can exit your current job and start fresh.
Knowing when to leave a toxic workplace
If you resonate with the signs of a toxic workplace and feel like these points about overcoming a toxic workplace is something you can add to your day, then there’s a bigger point to be made.
No matter toxic colleagues, managers or workplace practices – having an out is necessary. Stress management techniques can only take you up to a point, afterwards, you need to be able to take a leap and to put yourself in a better, happier and more productive workplace. Because navigating a toxic workplace is only a short term solution, but the long term is the most important. Try and create an exit plan from your toxic work environment for your own good.
Evolve has a journey designed with life coaches and experts to help you navigate a toxic workplace and come out of it on your terms. It’s an interactive virtual workshop you can try at home today! Evolve helps make your personal growth joyful and simple and helps you balance your stress, anxiety within minutes. The Evolve app is now live globally on Android & Apple, click here to try for free!
With over 300 articles published on Evolve. Jash is one of the most viewed writers on topics such as Sleep, Mindfulness and Stress. Drop a mail at Jash@evolveinc.in to connect with him.