No one would argue that work can be stressful, but your relationship with your coworkers has a powerful effect on your mental health and well-being, especially if you are surrounded by negativity and animosity at the office. If you find yourself stuck in a toxic work environment where the gossip, backstabbing, and unfairness have gotten to be too much, here are some ways to protect yourself from feeling overwhelmed at work.
- Identify Toxic People
One of the hardest things about dealing with a bad boss is that you’ll likely have no control over them. But, there’s one thing you can control: who you spend your time with at work. If someone isn’t bringing value to your life—whether it be in their words or actions—you need to distance yourself as much as possible. The easiest way to accomplish that is to avoid talking with and spending time around people who make you feel uncomfortable at best and antagonised at worst. Identify these people, then act accordingly: Minimise any communication and try not to engage too much when they’re nearby.
- Remove Yourself From That Environment
If you’re in an unhealthy or toxic work environment, your first step should be to leave. If that’s not an option—maybe you need health benefits, or there are other pressing financial reasons to stay put—make sure you take a break as often as possible and get regular workouts in. Staying healthy is key when dealing with people who are trying to make you feel terrible about yourself. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, self-care can help. You might even want to start doing some research into different positions within your company so that once things improve (or don’t), you can at least have an idea of where your next move will be and whether it will be within that organisation or elsewhere.
- Seek Support
No matter how toxic your office is, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. You may be surrounded by people who constantly put their needs above yours or who don’t value your input and ideas, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence. Consider talking with human resources about your situation—if nothing else, knowing that someone else is aware of what’s going on can help take some of the burden off of you.
- Take Risks
The great thing about going through tough situations is that you can learn from them. Don’t feel badly about where you are; try and see it as an opportunity to grow and learn. When you go through tough times, think about how you can apply what you learned so that it doesn’t happen again. Toxic situations will make for good stories—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to share your experiences with others down the road. Plus, knowing how not to handle difficult personalities can help prevent these same negative events in your future career.
- Learn From These Experiences
You need to understand that not every negative experience is someone else’s fault. We can go through life thinking everyone has wronged us, or we can decide that each one of these situations is an opportunity for learning and growth. If you let go of your ego, it becomes easier to accept blame and learn how not to make those same mistakes again. Learn what you can, apologize if needed, and move on with your life stronger than before. Experiences like these are stepping stones towards becoming wiser people, even when they don’t feel good at first. Even if you end up hating a job—even if all signs point towards leaving—you will find other opportunities in future jobs and remain confident in your ability as an employee no matter where you work next.
His experiences working for top brands like Unilever and Samsonite inspired him to write ‘The Rules of Work. Shivank set out to provide non-bullshitty, fact-based career advice that helps millennial workers get more opportunities and grow their careers faster. This blog is where he documents the daily challenges he and his colleagues face. Check him out on OfficeProductivity.org.