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4 minute read

Stress at Work: 6 Tips for Dealing With a Toxic Workplace

A toxic work environment causes more than just some bad days. Here are some tips to cope.

We all love the work we do, which is why we chose to launch a career in what we do best and are excited about. However, it is not always sunshine and rainbows.

We may find ourselves working in a toxic environment and are at a loss about what to do. It drains your happiness and dampens your excitement about the work you do.

You avoid your colleagues so that you do not have to deal with their difficult personalities.

An unhealthy workplace impedes your potential, when there could be so much more you could offer.

There is absolutely no shame in finding a new career opportunity with another company. We know a job search takes time, which is why you may have to stick it out for now.

In the meantime, here are some things you can do to make the situation better.

1. Don’t take it personally

This can be difficult especially if you feel that you have a bulls-eye on your back. Some people thrive on reactions and may jab you for one.

The best thing to do in these situations is to put your emotions aside and look at the matter objectively. Give appropriate responses only when asked and channel your energy to your work.

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You can’t change how others choose to behave around you or treat you, but you have total control over your reactions and responses.

2. Speak up, calmly

Getting upset in front of the entire office does not only reflect poorly on you, but it also gives toxic colleagues a reason to be upset with you before the management.

If you feel that ignoring your colleagues does not improve the situation and they are still being rude to you, consider making your objections heard.

Be sure to do so in a calm, collected, and most importantly, private manner.

3. Get your manager involved

We know that getting your boss involved is not the ideal scenario. It might look like you are incapable of handling the situation yourself, and you fear that they will start treating you differently at work.

It is your boss’ responsibility to remove hurdles at work so that you are receiving the help you need.

Good leaders take the time to listen to you and do what they can, to help make the workplace a friendly and safe environment for everyone to thrive in.

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4. Set distinct boundaries

Maybe your bosses are the problem. They are always setting unrealistic stretch goals, moving the goalposts several times a day, or expecting you to work long hours every day.

Request for a face-to-face meeting and let them know that while you appreciate the opportunities they have given, you are facing some challenges meeting the deadlines.

Be specific about how they can help you complete those tasks. Focus the discussion on you, align on the expectations, and agree on the next steps together.

After the meeting, send a detailed recap that captures all the discussion points to your boss so that they keep to their word.

5. Be kind to yourself

We know that working in a toxic environment causes prolonged, unsustainable stress. It impacts our performance and lowers our self-esteem.

Find the fun and happy people in your workplace and hang out with them during lunch or after work, to take your mind off the stress.

Take care of yourself by eating right, getting enough sleep, and finding time to exercise regularly.

No matter how much work there is, switch off during the weekend (or at least one day of the weekend) to recharge and regroup.

6. Learn and move on

Ironically, it is the memories of our time working in a toxic environment that reminds us that we are in a good place now.

You learn how not to act or be when you move on.

In order to get there, you need to know that you are not obliged to stay in a toxic workplace, especially if you are unable to see an end to it. 

Set aside some time to update your resume. During your interviews, conduct yourself in keeping with the reputation you wish to be known by.

That way, you will be ready when the opportunity you have been waiting for finally comes along.

This article is contributed by Randstad Singapore.

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