Dealing With Toxic Work Environment: 3 Solutions to Help You Feel Better at Work

Written by Evelyn Sky

6th April 2021

a man wearing protective suit and a gas mask

Photo: Pexels / @Cottonbro

Toxic workplace. Drama. Badmouthing. Gossip. A difficult boss. Belittling. Insensitive colleagues. The list can go on. The chances are that you have experienced most of the above during your work life.

In this short article, I will share with you 3 ways of how you can deal with the drama and feel better at work. The great thing is that you can use the same techniques in your personal life, too.

So here’s how to deal with a toxic work environment:

1. Remember that it is almost never personal

A lot of people take things personally and I can assure you that this is not the case. Most of the times the person spreading the negativity has some ongoing issue (quite often in their personal life) which is affecting them to the level that it affects other people, not only close to them but outside their immediate circle, too.

In some of my previous workplaces when I talk to someone who sounds upset or is not behaving the way appropriate for the workplace, my first question to them would be how they are and if everything at home is ok. That way I not only showed them that I care but that I am really keen to help and support them. The moment I ask them this, it all changes. And once again, it proves to me that it was not personal.

You may ask: What if this type of behaviour is constant and never changing, but this person is just that way? Well, in that case, you are dealing with a more serious case, but your best solution is to change your perception and trust that this is not personal (it is not!)

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.

So change your attitude, don’t focus on what you have been told as this is just a reflection of how the other person is feeling inside. It is a reflection of who they are, not who you are. Would someone who is happy, kind and understanding ever want to make you feel bad or belittle you? 100% no.

Changing your attitude and knowing that what you experience is not against you, will really help you. Think about what you can learn from the situation and how you can become even stronger and more confident in your own superpowers. Know your self-worth.

2. Create a “protective shield” type of mechanism

Creating a ‘protective shield’ is so important. You want to protect yourself from the negativity and toxic chatter. Life is just too short for people’s drama and we definitely don’t need more than what we already have in our personal life. I think you’d agree with me on this!

Your protective mechanism will help you through difficult times when you may feel what’s going on is too much for your liking, feeling desperate or feeling like you want to say something that you know you may regret later.

Here are some suggestions for helpful techniques to create your superhuman shield:

    • Meditation

You may be a meditation pro, new to meditation, never done it or just don’t believe in its benefits. Whatever group you belong to, trust me, meditation works. And not because I am saying it, but because of all the scientific research about the connection between the brain, overall health and meditation which proves it. You can start with just a couple of minutes a day and increase with time. What’s there to lose? (as regular practitioners say – you can only lose your anxiety, depression and stress… So give it a try and thank me later!)

    • The Take 5 Breathing Technique

The Take 5 Breathing Technique is super simple. You can even do it whilst in a meeting with your colleagues or boss without even anyone noticing. Of course, if it is not your turn to speak! To start breathe in for a count of 5, then hold for 5 and breathe out for 5. That’s it! Try to breathe in and out through your nose when doing this exercise. What this simple technique does is, actually activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that restores the body to a calm and composed state and is the one we need to take much more care of!  

    • Establish boundaries

‘Establish boundaries’ or as I sometimes call it: ‘avoiding negative people and circumstances’. On some occasions, you will be able to avoid a particular person if you consider them challenging or toxic. If you can do this, give it a try – it will make your work life easier. If you can’t, you will probably need to practise the techniques above.

3. Find a support group

Finding 1-2 friends at the workplace which you can trust, offer each other support and a place to vent is great. You can understand each other’s frustrations and discuss things that you wouldn’t be able to with anyone else.  

Fair Warning: Don’t get consumed in consistent ‘moaning’ behaviour thinking this is ‘venting’ or ‘sharing’. You will end up in a worse off mental state than before. The constant complaining of your current situation will turn you into a victim of your circumstances. Remember: the uneasy truth is that at any given point you can make the conscious decision to stay in this workplace and deal with whatever you are presented with or leave.

You are not a tree. You can move.

My personal advice to you is to think of 1-2 people you can talk with about what you are experiencing, but make sure that these people are naturally positive and you won’t turn these friendly chats into ‘moaning sessions’.

And last, but not least, don’t allow the toxic work culture to follow you home. The worst thing you can do to yourself and your family is to allow this to get to your personal life. Ponder on the following: Would what I am experiencing now and investing so much emotion in, matter in 5 years’ time? If it won’t, then don’t spend more than 5 minutes on it. Just breathe.

Career success is all about being able to cope with whatever comes your way! Do you want to join the #1 Career Success Club in the UK and Europe? Click here!

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