4 Strategies to Survive a Toxic Workplace

Think back to kindergarden, when we all drew pictures of ourselves in our future careers. Looking back, I wanted to be a professional horseback rider. There was never a conversation, imagining what the workplace culture I wanted to be a part of. Now, movies like Office Space let us take a humorous look and workplace cultures and how toxic they can become. But if you’re stuck in one, there’s nothing funny about it.

Here are some signs you may have gotten sucked into the vacuum of a toxic workplace:

  • “I” vs. “We” mentality, workers are motivated by personal gain
  • LOTS of gossip, snarkiness, and blaming
  • People doing mean-spirited and sometimes illegal things to get they want
  • Major drama and infighting
  • Unfair and inconsistent expectations
  • Incompetent co-workers only there because there’s no accountability

The reality is that it exists everywhere. Even the best teams have to deal with situations that hijack focus and derail productivity.

If you can identify and resolve the issue, then great. If it’s worth changing, then make the change and learn from it and be a better person for it. Until one of those wonderful things happen or you manage to get the hell out of dodge to a new job, here are four strategies that can help you survive.

4 Strategies to Survive a Toxic Workplace

  1. Make Connections. When we enter an engagement with a new team, we always ask, “Do you have a friend at work?” We’re all social creatures—yes, even you introverts. We need to have friends at work, people we can trust, to boost our morale.
  2. Create Progress. Happiness Hypothesis research describes the progress principle, our minds likes getting things done. We gain more happiness and fulfillment on our journey to reaching the goal than when we actually achieve it. Create long term and short term goals, momentum with small wins is key.
  3. Apply your strengths every day. According to Gallup, when we use our strengths, there is only 1% chance you will be disengaged in your job.
  4. Let it go or move on. Living with resentment and judgment is slowly killing you. Watch this National Geographic episode on the impact stress has on your body.

Don’t martyr yourself and be a victim to the circumstance, get in motion. Your happiness (and the happiness of the people you love) is worth it.



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