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.
This kind of toxic workplace can have a huge psychological impact on your life and no one deserves this. It can often feel extremely draining and demotivating to go to work and even routine tasks like weekly meetings may start to feel like a burden. You may feel completely unlike yourself and in extreme cases even feel yourself waiting to explode.
Given that we spend almost one-third of our adult lives working, it’s important to make sure you do not become a victim of a toxic workplace. And if you are in one, you should identify it and understand what you can do to improve your own mental wellbeing.
This is why it is important to know the signs of a toxic workplace. Let’s split that toxic work environment into parts: toxic colleagues and toxic managers.
Here are the signs of a toxic work environment and colleagues:
- Gossip and group-ism
- Stealing credit for your work
- Constant negative energy and body language
- Lack of respect for your personal time, feelings and emotions
Generally, a good way to think of toxic people is that there will be some amount of negative energy they bring to work. The moment you are around them, there’s an underlying sense of negativity and dread you may feel.
The first sign of toxic colleagues in a toxic workplace is gossip and groupism. Almost every office will have smaller groups form amongst their employees and that is healthy. However, this gets toxic when people start to spread rumours about colleagues and constantly try to drag someone down or make them the butt of office jokes.
Another key sign of a toxic colleague is one who takes credit for your work or keeps giving you their work. They may even talk badly about you to your boss or the rest of the team. If this is the case, steer clear from them and as these are all clear signs of a toxic colleague at your workplace.
Generally, you’ll be able to recognise toxic colleagues from their constant negativity. Right from their body language and how they show up to work or meetings every day. Or even the language and words they use. This is not just about being abusive but even things like constantly complaining or grumbling about everything going on. They will have issues with something or the other and keep creating unnecessary problems for the smallest of issues, with no regards for others.
And finally, one of the most telling signs of any toxic work environment is your colleagues’ lack of respect for your time, feelings or emotions. If this happens occasionally, it may still be okay depending on the situation. For example, if there’s a sudden deadline that everyone needs to work towards, it may be excusable. However, any of this behaviour happening on a consistent basis is something you need to watch out for going forward.
Signs of a toxic manager at a toxic workplace
Let’s now look at the signs of a toxic manager. Most toxic behaviour amongst managers will stem from a lack of trust or some underlying insecurities about themselves.
This may manifest itself in the form of constant micro-managing and nitpicking at your faults or what’s wrong. They may be insecure about your success and may often take credit for your work and put any blame on you and your co-workers. They may yell at you or bring you down in front of others and other similar behaviour. These are all relevant signs of a toxic work environment.
Toxic managers generally like making you feel like you owe a lot to them for giving you a job and that work is the only thing in your life. This can lead to a very toxic workplace and office culture. This may mean constantly being answerable to them even on weekends and holidays. Or making you work long working hours or stay back at work even though you have nothing to really do.
And finally, any manager who cares about you will invest time in your growth and development. And if this doesn’t happen, it could be a sign of a toxic manager.
Now it is extremely hard to find a perfect manager who will not exhibit any of these behaviours. But if you find one or more of these signs and you find it affecting your morale or mental health, you might need to take some corrective action soon to deal with the toxic workplace.
Toxic work environments and their signs
What signs about a toxic colleague or manager resonate with you? Do you see this happening at your workplace? If more than half these signs are something you can connect with, there’s probably a high chance your workplace is toxic.
When suffering and working in a toxic work environment or toxic office, it’s important to know how to take corrective action and find smart ways to navigate it. That’s always the next step in the process. But for starters, make sure you surround yourself with people whom you can trust, take plenty of downtime from work and make sure your weekends are yours. If you’re extremely stressed at work, try these simple habits to overcome stress in the short term.
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.