Toxic Work Environments and How to Survive Them

Do gossip and clashes between colleagues take over in your work environment? Do you feel like your bosses don't really value you? What real chances do you have of a promotion in the company you work for? These are some key questions you should ask yourself to find out if you're working in a toxic environment.
Toxic Work Environments and How to Survive Them

Last update: 20 February, 2021

Regardless of whether you really enjoy your work, your working environment directly influences what you actually achieve while you’re there. In addition, it affects your day-to-day life and, ultimately, your quality of life. This becomes particularly relevant if you find yourself immersed in toxic work environments with unpleasant colleagues. Because in these kinds of scenarios, drama, fights, and disagreements become part of your daily routine.

In fact, it can sometimes happen that you feel bad about yourself in other aspects of your life, but you’re not aware that the root of the problem lies in your work environment. Indeed, you tend to become so accustomed to this kind of unpleasant atmosphere that it just seems normal. Therefore, you don’t notice any of the implications.

Analyzing your work environment

It’s really important to ask yourself some questions about your work, as well as your workplace. This way, you can gain some perspective about your work situation. In addition, you can work out if there are any future possibilities for you in the company.

Generally, problems between work colleagues are usually a direct result of poor leadership on the part of those in charge of the team. In fact, poor leadership, where there’s no synergy or mutual understanding, can lead to a toxic environment.

Toxic leadership is usually characterized by a lack of regard or even contempt for team members.

A couple arguing.

Favoritism, lack of respect for each other’s personal lives, the absence of clear limits, and the permitting of gossip and unprofessional behavior don’t reflect the attitudes of a true democratic leader. Indeed, if you’ve got a boss who demonstrates this kind of behavior, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

A lack of opportunities create toxic work environments

Assessing the opportunities for promotion that your work offers you for the future is key to examining your work environment.

If you’re overworked and underpaid, and there’s a lack of opportunities for promotion, you’re probably working in a toxic work environment.  

Work environments where leaders don’t provide constructive feedback on their employees’ performance, or where they consistently doubt the ability of the employees to make decisions is an environment where the worker has no real future.

Indeed, there are companies, especially in current times, that try to make their workers feel lucky just to be given the chance to work there. Hence the trade-off is that the employee has to endure a toxic work environment. Obviously, most people need to work. However, accepting terms like these could mean they’re caught in a trap that’ll end up with a lot of negative consequences for them in the long run.

The balance between work and personal life

Undoubtedly, work plays an important part in your life. However, if you find yourself using up your free time to do more work, you might be crossing the line from work normality to work toxicity.

One way to work out whether you’re in this type of situation is to work out whether your conversations in your free time continually revolve around your work. These might either be in a positive or negative way.

If you’re unable to stop continually talking about your work, you need to consider whether your work has started to excessively invade your personal space.

Another way of measuring your work environment is your health. If you often feel unwell for no apparent reason, you might be suffering emotional stress. This could be due to being immersed in a toxic work environment.

Preparing to escape

If you realize you’re working in a toxic environment, one of the first things you might think of doing is leaving. Unfortunately, now isn’t the best time for the labor market, so this change could prove difficult. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be forced to put up with it.

A change in routine and, above all, your own expectations can help improve your future prospects. Even though it might be hard to get away from your toxic work environment, there are other options you can explore.

Restudying, joining training courses, and even taking exams are all ideas you could consider. Indeed, they’ll certainly broaden your work horizons. Furthermore, they may well end up paying off.

Even training in something that’s totally unrelated to your current job is a way of clearing your mind. Furthermore, you’ll get away from that small circle that’s become such a toxic environment.

Surviving toxic work environments

If you’re immersed in a toxic work environment, something you need to work out is to what extent you’re actually part of it. This is because the toxic mindset of a company can quickly be passed onto its employees. Therefore, it’s a good idea to ask yourself if you’re actually part of the problem.

Try to avoid gossip as well. This means staying away from any toxic conversations between colleagues and certainly not joining in. Particularly if there are personal insults involved.

It doesn’t usually do much good to complain to your colleagues about other people or situations. This doesn’t usually solve the problem. In fact, it makes it worse.

Here’s some advice that might be useful in dealing with a toxic work environment.  It’s particularly relevant when it comes to managing your own time.

  • Make the most of your free time.
  • Look for activities that help clear your mind.
  • Do some creative activities.
  • Spend some time on activities that have nothing to do with work.

You might think this all sounds a bit complicated. It may help to write down all the new routines you want to take up. For example, your list might include not sharing too many personal details at work and taking a walk outside of work every lunchtime.

Making friends outside your work environment can be useful.  Also, don’t take work home. Finally, try and establish some new work prospects for your future.

By following these tips, you’ll feel a real sense of well-being and interior happiness. This is because you’re actually seeking solutions to bring this situation to a close. Don’t forget that, if you persist in your efforts, you’ll escape the toxicity that’s been making your life so miserable.


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.