A toxic workplace is often considered the result of toxic employees or toxic employers. If your toxic workplace isn’t improving and the issues you’ve identified floods the entire organizational culture, then it may be a sign that is time for you to see what other opportunities are out there. But how do you differentiate whether you’re just unhappy or it’s the workplace?

differentiating between unhappiness and toxicity

You’re all unique individuals operating at different levels. If you can get along with and actually like most of the people you work with, you’re quite fortunate. Unfortunately, many organizations still don’t understand the effect a toxic environment has on their people. Or worse, they recognize the atmosphere in the office is tense and people are upset but choose to do nothing about it. For support, you should turn to your manager or HR if necessary. But often toxicity flows from the top down. What can you do personally to manage a toxic environment? Here are some tips for surviving a toxic workplace:

1. don’t take it personally

This can be really tough, especially when they seem to be targeting at you. You can either do nothing about it or realize the problem is theirs, not yours. Disengage emotionally, don’t react, and keep it professional. You can’t change people, but you can change attitudes. 

2. speak up, calmly

If leaving the situation alone isn’t helping, you can consider making your points – just make sure to do so calmly and in private. Yelling and getting upset will unlikely to generate the response you want, and may just cause the perpetrator to get defensive and act out. 

3. get your manager involved

Just the thought of involving your boss may make you anxious. What if they treat you differently? What if they side with the other person? Set aside those fears. If your boss is a reasonable manager, they’re there to help you out. Good leaders will listen to you and do whatever’s in their power to help to improve the condition of your workplace.

If your boss is part of the problem, consider going directly to HR if you have a good relationship with someone you can trust in the department. 

4. be kind to yourself

The impact of a toxic environment is unsustainable. It causes us to break down physically and mentally, destroys our self-esteem, affects our performance, as well as our personal and work relationships. Try to find the fun, happy people in your workplace and get involved with them. Make sure you take care of yourself by eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising.

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