Thanks to the pressures of globalization, economic volatility, contingent work, and technological disruption, the workplace has become and continues to be a rather turbulent place. People — and perhaps more importantly, company cultures – are being neglected in the course of this workplace transformation process. An infographic from TINYpulse notes that as much as 64 percent of workers rate their company cultures as “poor” or “moderate.”
A large portion of the modern workforce, it seems, may be working in less-than-stellar workplace situation. That’s why I thought it would be both timely and helpful to provide some tips on how to survive if you find yourself in a toxic environment.
1. Find an Outlet for Your Frustration
You will be subject to negativity on a regular basis in a toxic environment. Studies show that the stimuli associated with such a negative environment cause our bodies to release dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. Constant stress without respite can lead to burnout, depression, high blood pressure, and other related issues. That’s why it’s vital that workers in toxic environments find reliable, regular, and fast-acting outlets for their frustration. This will allow them to regularly recharge themselves and be ready to overcome their toxic cultures.
There are many ways to reduce stress, but experts say that exercise is one of the best, as it releases endorphins and other hormones which help the body fight stress. Consider high-energy activities like running, swimming, team sports, or martial arts. Alternative stress-reducing activities include yoga and pilates.
2. Use Up All Your PTO
I am not going to dwell on this, because I have written about this topic in detail recently. The fact is that only a quarter of Americans use all their paid vacation time. Be one of the few who does, and you may find yourself rising above the negativity because you’re either reminiscing over a recent holiday or looking forward to the next one. Taking all of your holiday allowance will help you recharge more effectively, making it easier to stay strong when the toxicity of your workplace creeps in.
3. Think Positive — Things May Not Be as Bad as They Seem
Studies show that humans have a negativity bias, and we are much more sensitive to bad news than good news.
If you think you may be in a toxic workplace, list all the positive and negative aspects of your day/week/month. You may find that the positive aspects of your job far outweigh the negatives — even if it doesn’t always feel like that. In this case, the suggested exercise can be a useful way to remind yourself that things aren’t so bad after all.
If your list shows that the negatives do outweigh the positives, then it’s time to turn to some of these other tips — or just find a new job, if necessary.
4. Set Boundaries for the Complainers Around You
Toxic environments will most likely contain a lot of moaners and complainers. In fact, Gallup found that these actively disengaged complainers are likely to spread negativity around the office. Now, you can’t control their negative behavior, but you can control your exposure to it.
Quickly remove yourself from negative office gossip and conversations before they drag you down. If a moaner brings negativity to your doorstep, listen once and give a sympathetic response. As soon as they start repeating themselves or bringing lots of complaints to the table, it’s time to politely set a boundary by changing the subject and/or asking what they will do about their problems.
Furthermore, consider limiting the amount of time you spend with negative people and increasing the amount of time you spend with positive people.
These tactics should help you to limit the amount of negativity you must tolerate in a given workday.
5. Think About Solutions, Not Problems
Turn the obstacles and problems in your toxic environment into challenges you can overcome. If you hate something, change something. If you have the power to implement a solution, than do it. If you need the support of others, try to gather consensus or put proposals forwards to your manager. If you can spend your time focused on solutions rather than problems, you will do more than survive: you will thrive and rise above the toxic culture.
As a final word, remember your workplace is not a prison. You are free to leave. So, if at any point you find that the toxic cons are absolutely unbearable in your workplace, it may be time to leave.