My Boss keeps scolding me even for tiny things! How to stay positive in a toxic work environment? My manager took all the credit for my hard work. What should I do? There is too much workload in the office, and I cannot find the balance between my work and my personal life.
Believe it or not, this is the complaint I heard from most professionals and for what reason? It is perhaps because of their manager, colleagues, or toxic Boss.
I still remember vividly being in a seminar, and when the host asked a question, whoever had a “bad boss,” toxic colleague, or toxic work environment, over 90 % of the audience raised their hands, including me.
Although most workplaces are moving towards positive, empathetic environments, focusing on employees’ well-being and productivity, toxic ones still exist, so I am writing this article. This is for those who face such situations and can learn how to stay positive in a toxic work environment through my writing.
How To Stay Positive In a Toxic Work Environment?
Obviously, it’s not a piece of cake. It takes time to find a new job, and you can’t just walk away from a problematic situation immediately. Even though the unhealthy office environment or unhealthy people depress you a lot. But it’s useful to equip some strategies and learn about how to stay positive in a toxic work environment unless you find another job.
Let us Discuss a Few Strategies:
Find Like-Minded People:
The first step is to become successful by surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals. Make friends and watch each other’s backs. This way, you guys will effectively communicate with each other to share news and support each other at your workplace.
Document All Your Actions:
Start to document all your actions. You read it right. It might seem a ridiculous concept at this moment, but you will thank me one day. Save emails, note comments and decisions from meetings, phone calls, and each interaction you have with others. You will need evidence if you need to file a complaint. Whether you decide to take legal action or not, you can at least email this over at the end of your exit interview to at least protect/support anyone else.
Make An Investment In Yourself:
You should never stop investing in yourself. Learn new skills and strengthen your expertise outside of your job to protect yourself as much as possible. Remember the water that stands still becomes stagnant. Whether volunteering, taking online classes, speaking on panels, attending workshops, or joining local industry-related Zoom or Facebook groups, you need to engage in activities that consistently remind you of your fierce, smart, creative, and capable nature. No one can take this investment from you. The more you learn, the more you’ll be polished. Make yourself invaluable so much that organizations rush to hire your services or to retain you.
Although being friendly with colleagues and your Boss is great, getting along with every person you work with is impossible. You’ll be able to keep things in perspective more if you steer clear of personal chat and remember that your Boss is simply a manager (not your parent or anyone else who has authority over you). Use email to communicate as much as possible (paper trail), and do not take the bait of toxic office people.
Such toxic people can use multiple childish tactics to taunt or tease you while relieving their personal stress. Examples include passive aggression, purposeful exclusion, giving credit to someone else for your work, or any other childish or teasing method.
If they pull some of their most common ugly behaviors and you don’t react as they want, write a list and give yourself a point score for each one. You deserve a mental pat on your back for every slight or taunt silently tolerated. Try to overcome your fear of such office clowns so that you can laugh at them once you have reached a certain number of points. You will feel light-hearted and full of peace. This makes it easy to follow through on your efforts regarding how to stay positive in a toxic work environment.
Let Your Voice Be Heard:
Do you feel scared to stand up for yourself? But bullies use your silence and fear as protection. Speaking up whenever someone crosses your line will give them a message you aren’t the type of person that can be easily bullied or trifled with. You can do this without being aggressive or unprofessional. Simply ask away, “What do you mean by that?” or say, “Please do not talk to me like that.”
In my last job, my Boss constantly spoke down to me until one day, I said, “The way you treat me makes me feel uncomfortable,” I further said, “If you’re not satisfied with my work, I’d like to discuss it so that I can do better.” This direct approach threw him off balance, but he did back off enough to give me some breathing space, even though he didn’t completely change his personality.
Start Your Exit Plan:
It may make sense to stay at your job if you have some hope things might improve with time. Meanwhile, start looking for a new job. This will help you stay positive when things get tough. Always have a mental ‘exit plan’ if you work in a toxic environment. It will help you answer the self-question of how to stay positive in a toxic work environment. If you had to leave suddenly, consider finding a bridge job that will keep you active while you search for something that aligns with your career for long-term purposes.
Take Action Now:
Thinking of leaving behind your toxic workplace or colleagues? No worries! Take action now. From where to start? Work on your LinkedIn profile and resume by optimizing it. You need to match your experience with the position. You may also reach out to someone you admire for advice or information. You should put together a portfolio and create a great cover letter template. You will surely set yourself up for success. When you feel ready, start applying for jobs!
Some Tips That Can Help You Relieve Stress:
If you are struggling to cope at work, you can do a few things to help relieve your stress. Below are a few things that can also help in learning how to stay positive in a toxic work environment.
- Calm your mind and reduce stress by practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation.
- Spend time stretching, walking, or engaging in activities you enjoy throughout the day.
- Organize and prioritize your tasks.
- When you’re overburdened with work or extra responsibilities, set boundaries and learn to say no.
- Engage in hobbies, exercise, and music to release stress.
- Having the listening ear of a friend or family member or even helpful advice can be a huge help.
- Engage in relaxation activities, get enough sleep, and eat nutritious meals.
- Your stress may be caused by negative thoughts or beliefs. Identify and challenge them.
- If your stress levels become unmanageable, seek professional help.
Signs of an Unhealthy Work Environment:
- High levels of stress and anxiety among employees.
- Frequent conflicts and a negative or hostile atmosphere.
- Lack of communication or poor communication between colleagues or management.
- Excessive workload and unrealistic expectations.
- Lack of recognition or appreciation for employees’ efforts.
- High turnover rate or frequent employee resignations.
- Micromanagement or lack of trust in employees’ abilities.
- Bullying or harassment in the workplace.
- Inadequate support or resources for employees to perform their tasks effectively.
- Lack of work-life balance, with long working hours or unreasonable demands.
I wrote a few of the common examples. If the above signs are present in your current job, then it’s time for you to learn how to stay positive in a toxic work environment.
Did you know what impact it will have on your life?
If you think your toxic office environment left no harmful effects on your personality or lifestyle, you are being delusional. There is always a price to pay while enduring toxic and negative energy, whether in your personal or professional life. The key is acknowledging that such toxicity exists and trying to remedy such a situation.
Impacts of an Unhealthy Work Environment On Yourself:
- Decreased job satisfaction
- Increased stress levels
- Emotional distress
- Poor work performance
- Damaged self-esteem
- Increased absenteeism
- Difficulty in maintaining work-life balance
- Strained relationships
- Career setbacks
Did you know it has been estimated that we spend roughly one-third of our lives at our workplace? That’s approximately 90,000 hours at work out of your lifetime. A culture of an office is developed by all factors working together. If everybody works together to remove toxicity from a workplace, it can drastically change your outlook and overall job satisfaction. Make an effort to improve your situation and on how to stay positive in a toxic work environment. But if you feel conditions are not improving, get out of this toxic workplace to save your sanity and look for better and brighter job opportunities. The world of opportunity awaits you, just pluck your courage and say NO to toxicity.
- Communicate well.
- Share your opinion.
- Do small acts of kindness.
- Highlight victories.
- Keep your thoughts positive.
- Constantly looking for new employees as the company keeps firing them or they keep quitting.
- The hiring process takes too long or is super quick.
- The recruiters keep pointing out how hard work is rewarding to sugarcoat overtime practices in future and more such red flags.
- Find a trustable colleague or make a friend.
- Don’t take matters personally.
- Keep on your eyes on the ultimate goal.
- Exercise to stay positive.
- Focus on what you can control.
- Try to become the ideal leader for your understaff members.
Always leave a communication trail. Whether email, messages or video calls, stay vigilant by using these means instead of oral dealings with colleagues and employers. It particularly holds true if you feel your work or professionalism might get questioned unjustly in a toxic work environment.
Of course, if you feel your work environment is unhealthy for you and there seems to be no imminent improvement in the near future, start looking for a solid exit strategy. It is a smart move. But if the situation improves miraculously, you can stay positive and discard that exit plan you had in your back pocket.