A toxic work environment (emotionally damaging and negative) costs billions of dollars a year and results in low productivity, high absenteeism, and early termination.
If you’re in a toxic work environment—your boss is negative or critical or your coworkers are underhanded, manipulative, or attacking—there are things you can do to protect yourself:
1. Purify Yourself When You Get Home
When you get home, cleanse yourself from the negativity of work. Take a nice bath or shower, do fun things with family and friends, and engage in a positive practice such as exercise, spiritual affirmation, or a creative hobby. Doing this will help dissolve the negative feelings from work and will refresh and invigorate you.
2. Find an Emotional Expression Partner
Talk to a friend you can trust and express your frustrations about work. Even if they don’t offer you a viable solution, just listening to you empathetically can make a big difference in helping you feel better.
3. Look For The Positive Aspects of the Job
Even if your job is negative and the people are emotionally draining, see if you can find something useful from the job. Perhaps, the training is good or there is something you can learn that you can apply in a future job. Even dealing with negative and gossiping people can be a psychological growth-inducer as you develop tougher emotional skin.
4. Have An Exit Strategy
If you can’t tolerate the job at all, write down a strategy for getting a better job, career, or even starting a new business. This will motivate you when things are tough at work, and eventually your plan can become a reality.
5. Keep Your Boundaries
It’s important that you protect your emotional and physical health by saying “NO” when you have a bullying and unreasonably demanding boss. Although it may be difficult to say “No” to your employer (you fear losing your job), it’s important that you take care of yourself emotionally and physically. Take your lunch break, don’t come in too early or stay too late (unless you really want to), don’t work on weekends or from home on your time off, and don’t respond to your boss at all hours of the night. Establishing and keeping boundaries will raise your level of self-respect and will help you maintain your emotional balance.
6. Make Your Workspace Positive: Although negative energy can be swirling around you from other people, you can bring some positivity into your work or office space. You can place posters that bring you peace, pictures of your loved ones, and life-affirming sayings that inspire you. Do what you can to make your space positive and relaxing so you can create a cocoon of emotional protectiveness.
7. Be Authentic
Too many people lose themselves in their job and sacrifice their integrity and what is important to them. Although it’s great to work hard and be dedicated to your job, it’s more important that you act according to your true nature. If your employer is repeatedly asking you to do something that is against your deepest values and beliefs, then you need to take a step back and reaffirm your position and beliefs. Take a stand for who you really are inside.
Although a toxic work environment can take a toll on your psychological and emotional health, you can survive, and even thrive, if you take care of your emotional integrity. Eventually, when you are able to leave (financially and practically), you will do so and grow into a stronger and more loving human being. Then, you can take your experiences and help others thrive in their work as well. After all, as the great poet, Khalil Gibran once said, “Work is love made visible.” Bring love into your work, and it will never seem like work.