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Thrive when you are trapped in a toxic work environment
August 8, 2017, 4:02 pm

An ideal workplace offers psychological safety and great benefits, but also boasts a culture that encourages employees to learn and succeed through collaboration and creativity. Toxic cultures, on the other hand, can cause employees massive stress that manifests itself in the form of burnout or even sickness. It can be difficult to distinguish what is okay at work, especially if you are employed by a popular company or totally caught up in your responsibilities. Here are some ways to deal with a truly toxic workplace culture. 

Trust your instincts: If you think you are working in a toxic environment, then you probably are. You should never ignore your gut feelings, because you know yourself (and your work preferences) better than anyone else. Pay attention to what your instincts are telling you, and how they are telling you to fix the situation. For example, you might consider setting up more regular, informal check-ins with your manager. By doing this, you can share your concerns and determine what changes would make the work environment more welcoming for you.

Transform it into a learning experience: Whether a toxic work environment stems from an awful boss or gossipy coworkers, you can think of your negative experiences as a chance to learn. The best growth opportunities often come from the most difficult experiences, so view your workplace’s unhealthy culture as an excuse for personal development. To do it, start by observing what leadership qualities are ineffective, or what aspects of your company’s culture are dragging its employees down. Take note for the future.

Don’t give in: Though it’s easy to give up and do nothing about distancing yourself from your company’s toxic culture, this is actually the worst thing you can do to cope. By giving in and ignoring the issues at hand, you are contributing to your office’s toxic environment, selling yourself short of what you can accomplish, and risking your own integrity. While leaders do play a large role in shaping and improving culture, employees share the responsibility.

Deal with your company’s negative environment by continuing to work toward your goals, remaining positive, and staying true to yourself and your values. Document your concerns and share them with your boss or HR manager as you see fit. In an instance where your concerns are ignored or the culture fails to improve, start looking for a new job elsewhere.

Voice your concerns: To avoid feeling like just another number, provide feedback to your manager and peers in real time. True cultural change can only come when employees are open and honest about how they feel so improvements can take place. When you deliver feedback in a way that shows how the culture is negatively impacting the company’s bottom line, leaders will hear your concerns loud and clear.

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