When you dread going to work every day, it can make your life miserable. The stress from a toxic work environment can carry over into your personal life, affecting your relationships and even your health. It’s not always possible to quit your job, so how do you manage in the meantime? Know that it is possible to rise above the negativity, even when you feel like you’re drowning in it. Here are five tips to help you do just that.
Identify What Is Upsetting You
This may sound obvious but it’s important to identify the actual problem. Often times we let things go on too long without dealing with it and before you know it, what started off as being mildly irritated by your co-worker leaving the printer jammed has snowballed into everyone at work being the worst people on the planet and your blood pressure sky rocketing to scary levels.
Try this: The next time you find yourself upset at work, take a five minute break to write down the specific problem and then create a game plan. It might be something you can talk through with a co-worker or discuss with your boss. Or maybe you’ll realize the problem is smaller than you thought and you can move on from it without it affecting you.
When you find yourself surrounded by gossiping co-workers, passive aggressive bosses or a combination of both, remind yourself that you have a job to do. It’s easy to get sucked into the extracurricular water cooler talk, but when it starts to turn negative, it’s time to pull away. Stay focused on the task at hand and kindly excuse yourself back to your work space.
Try this: Spend ten minutes each morning writing out a schedule of deadlines for work that needs to get done that day. Concentrating on a big project or tackling your to-do list is a great way to create boundaries and avoid negativity. Use this focus and energy to excel at your job, so that you can eventually move on to better things.
Don’t Take Things Personally
Most unhappy people are usually the most negative and that negativity gets directed at everyone around them. These destructive personalities seem to be the cornerstone of any toxic work environment. The next time your co-worker is in a bad mood and says something critical of you, remind yourself that their disposition and what they say isn’t really about you. It stems from their own unhappiness. Or when someone makes a passive aggressive comment, it doesn’t mean that you have to give in or react.
Try this: Pause for a few minutes to consider what is going on with the other person. Put yourself in their shoes. Are they going through a tough time outside of work? Are they struggling with their job? Understanding the source of their unhappiness will help you understand that it’s not about you, even if it was taken out on you.
You know that one co-worker who seems to know just what to say to get to you? Every job has at least one. He’s the one who needs you to react. He’s out for the attention. Don’t give it to him. Refuse to engage and be selective about what you say if you do respond. You are in control of your actions and reactions. And sometimes the best response is no response.
Try this: Grab a sticky note and write down this quote – “Take responsibility for the energy you bring to this place.” Put it somewhere you’ll see it often in your work space to remind yourself that you are in charge of your demeanor, attitudes and actions.
Tune It Out
When all else fails, tune it out. If your work space allows for it, turn on some upbeat music to lighten the atmosphere and block out the things going on around you. Music is a powerful source of motivation and can be a complete game changer at work. And who knows, it might even help your cranky co-workers.
We spend a huge portion of our lives at work. When that time and space becomes unhealthy, it’s important that we put in the effort to take care of ourselves. Try these suggestions and see how they will affect not only yourself but also hopefully improve your toxic work environment. Take what helps you and toss the rest. Continue to try new things and stay positive. It is possible and you are so worth it!