How to Stay Positive and Survive in a Toxic Workplace
Updated: Nov 25, 2022
We have all been there.
We are stuck in a job we hate, surrounded by negative people (and a stupid supervisor!) who make every day a struggle.
In an unhealthy work environment, negative behaviors such as bullying, swearing, etc. are so ingrained in the culture that a lack of productivity and self-confidence, excessive stress, power struggles, and discrimination are inevitable.
In this environment, employees feel emotionally vulnerable and dangerous. They may feel humiliated if they speak up - or even reprimanded for doing so. A toxic work environment can lead to anxiety.
It's hard to stay positive and motivated in these situations, but it's not impossible.
Why not try using a toxic workplace as an opportunity to develop the unique skills that help you survive and even thrive in any environment.
A toxic work environment is an unpleasant place to work.
Poor management, gossip, lack of transparency, favoritism, unreasonable expectations or long hours, and disrespectful and ungrateful supervisors and colleagues can create a corporate culture that drains you every day and robs you of the energy to get your work done.
Many people find themselves in a toxic environment after a while. They feel harassed by a supervisor, colleague's behavior, the company's core values or vision.
An unhealthy work-life balance also leads you to hate your job. It's difficult to figure out the real reason for a toxic work environment, but it's easy to look at the symptoms instead of the cause.
Finding an ideal work environment is challenging, but it's how we develop it that matters.
Often people take a job without finding out about the company's work culture and then, after working for a few months, complain about the toxicity of the work culture.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of walking away from a toxic work environment. For most of us, staying unemployed might be a bigger problem than a toxic work environment.
Poor management, gossip, lack of transparency, favoritism, unreasonable expectations or long hours, and disrespectful and ungrateful supervisors or colleagues can create a toxic workplace.
Here are a few tips on how to stay positive in a toxic work environment and still grow until you find your dream job.
Find a companion.
We have known for years that having a companion helps you grow. A close friend or mentor at work can help you tremendously.
A colleague can understand you and your situation, for better or worse, and help you survive and grow. Even a single friend can help you keep your sanity in a toxic work environment. So find your companion in the crowd and lighten your load by sharing your thoughts with them.
Turn to your BFF
Like an infection, negativity spreads quickly and can cause greater damage if not treated in time.
So if you do not have a good companion or mentor at work, turn to your best friend. Meet with them for a cup of coffee and spit out everything that makes negativity rise up inside you. Thoughts lose their negativity when you speak them out.
So do not wait too long. Call someone you trust and share everything before it consumes you.
Kindness vs. toxicity
Do not get caught up in a morass of bad attitudes.
Instead, focus on not allowing negativity affect you - the best way to do this is to exude kindness.
For example, if a colleague approaches you with bad news, rumors or gossip, give in to their request to be heard, then politely refuse to talk about it. Instead, simply laugh, thank them for talking to you, and return to your work.
Famous ex-Beatle George Harrison referred to "gossip" as the devil's radio, and it's an apt image.
It's hard to ignore or avoid gossip, especially when it affects you and has to do with politics or work colleagues and superiors.
The urge to speak out makes even the most ethical and mature employee sit up and take notice. But tuning out gossip is the best option for keeping your sanity.
Staying away from gossip is not only righteous, it's also good for continuing to look good at work. Pay attention to what is important, not what if.
Maintain your work-life balance
Make sure you maintain a healthy work-life balance and enjoy the benefits of your happiness.
Try everything you can to split your days - go through a busy day at work and spend your evenings unimaginably carefree - schedule things you enjoy doing. Go out to dinner with friends, family or loved ones, watch a sitcom or hit the gym to work out.
Set a date
Set a date for your last day of work in this toxic environment. Mark the date on a calendar and remember it every day.
Do your best to leave on that day. Work as long as you are in the office, but make sure your head knows you will not be here much longer.
Enlist the help of agencies, coaches, friends or even sites like LinkedIn and start networking.
Start your job search
If you are waiting for an opportunity to knock on your door, stay on your job hunt.
It feels good to take action; it reminds you that you have a choice and options.
Feeling like you have a choice strengthens your positive attitude and protects your emotions from a toxic culture. Meanwhile, you are also expanding your network by connecting with others and finding more opportunities.
We learn the essential things in life from bad decisions.
So learn from your mistakes, understand what you do not like, and make sure you do your research on the next company you want to take a job with.
Constantly changing jobs can leave a black mark on your resume. Therefore, talk to a friend or mentor/coach to make sure you are making the right decision.
Do not make the mistake of settling for what you ran away from. Instead, make conscious choices and wise decisions.
Have you ever worked in a toxic environment and what was your experience? Put in the comments below!