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I’m excited to talk about a topic that I am super passionate about. If you follow me on social media (connect with me on LinkedIn), you know that I am an advocate against working in a toxic workplace or any environment that damages your mental and emotional health. When I meet professionals, they always ask me two questions, “Am I working in a toxic work environment?” and “what are the signs that I’m working in a toxic workplace?”
If you’ve asked these questions recently, you’re in the right place!
I first want to set the tone by telling you, here at Seasoned and Growing, you have officially entered a safe space where you’re encouraged to be brave, bold, and unapologetic when it comes to building your career. My hope is that you walk away feeling validated when it comes to your experience and deciding what next steps you will be taking. Keep on reading to know all there is to know about a toxic workplace and the signs of a toxic workplace (or as I like to call them… RED FLAGS!).
When it comes to understanding toxic environments, validation of your feelings is key. Toxic environments do exist, and a lot of people do not want to admit that they do. But it’s a real thing. You’re probably wondering what makes me an expert on toxic environments and why they bother me so much. The truth is, I have worked in many and understand how they can make you feel.
In fact, have been in abusive work situations, and I know many of my clients have, as well as the job seekers that I connect with daily. I have also heard horror stories, which range from bosses throwing things at their employees, bosses physically touching employees, inappropriate manners, and bosses cursing at employees. That is disrespectful. It’s also unprofessional.
Since you’ve landed on this article, I’m guessing that you’ve asked yourself some of the following questions:
Have you ever had those thoughts? Well, here’s some news. That is exactly how a toxic work environment will make you feel.
Toxic environments will have you constantly second-guessing your thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. That is not healthy for you. So, let’s talk a little bit about what a toxic workplace is and how to recognize signs to determine if you are in one.
I don’t have the textbook definition of a toxic work environment, but coming from working in multiple ones, working with clients who are escaping them, and have left to them, I can tell you what they do and what they offer.
These are behaviors that toxic workplaces thrive off of, promotes, and accepts.
To identify a toxic work environment, you need to be able to recognize when you’re witnessing disrespectful behavior in the workplace or when you are a direct target of disrespect.
So now you’re probably thinking, “What do you mean by disrespect?”
Here are a few examples of disrespectful behavior at work.
There are many other examples of being disrespected at work, but these are just a few that come up on a consistent basis when I work with professionals.
Think about how you talk to someone when you’re annoyed, frustrated, intentionally being sarcastic, or just in a bad mood.
In toxic work environments, this is the tone 90% of the time. It is how everyone talks to each other and it has become normalized.
Although it has become normalized in your workplace, that doesn’t make it “normal” universally. You shouldn’t go to work and constantly think to yourself, “am I being scolded by a parent?” or “did I do something wrong?”
Toxic workplaces take can take a mental, emotional, and physical toll on your health. So, let me ask you, how’s your health doing? When it starts to take a toll on your health, you know that you are in an environment where you cannot thrive.
If you have started gaining weight, skipping meals, experience dizziness, acquired depression, increased anxiety, or you feel sick regularly, you my friend, are in a toxic work environment.
Your body is telling you (in the only way it knows how) that there is a major problem that needs to be addressed.
P.S. No job is worth sacrificing your health.
Have you ever had that eerie feeling that you’re living in the twilight zone?
Toxic environments can play many tricks on your mind. Often since managers, employees, and other leaders have made this the norm, you will start to wonder:
So typically it starts at the head and kind of works its way down. So it can be either the president, or it can be a manager, that’s just over a big team.
Work should not be a place that requires you to constantly question your sanity and talk yourself off a ledge every day.
After people discover that their workplace is toxic, they often ask me “how can I deal with a toxic work environment” or “how can I feal with toxic colleagues?”
My advice is simple and straightforward.
Keep Tabs on Your Feelings
Recognize and accept your feelings as true, valid, and worthy of addressing. Most of all, pay attention! When you wake up in the morning, do you feel okay with getting up and showering, getting dressed, and heading to work?
Or when you hear your alarm go off, do you just kind of sit there paralyzed, numb with a sense of dread, and despising another day. If this is how you feel, this is not healthy. I also don’t want you to subscribe to the belief that “everyone feels this way.” It’s simply not true.
If you have found yourself nodding and shaking your head in agreement throughout reading this article, guess what? It’s time to leave.
Simply put, a toxic environment offers nothing, but takes everything from you. Your health, sanity, confidence, and feelings of self-worth are all at stake the longer you stay.
If and when you are ready to move on to greener pastures, I recommend taking advantage of the next step.
This is not a time to self-isolate or try to figure it out on your own. As mentioned earlier, a toxic workplace can take a serious toll on your entire being.
If you have limited encouragement or motivation to jump back into the job search, you may be suffering from depression, low confidence, or low self-esteem. These are muscles that you need to rebuild, and that takes extra help.
I strongly recommend building out a support system that includes the following people.
Becoming Toxic Free!
Before ending this article, I want to thank you for being brave and taking the time to find and read this. It’s a bigger deal than you think. I also want to give you some validation as you continue to embark on your journey of recognizing and breaking free from a toxic workplace.
I hope that this helped you and gives you a little boost of encouragement and the motivation that you need to move forward. I would love to hear your thoughts on toxic workplaces and bad work environments. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section.
Also, I recently held a virtual event, Breakthrough to Break free. We covered how to identify red flags, questions to ask in interviews to avoid toxic environments, confidence boosting tips, job search tips, and so much more. If you’re ready to tune in, click here. It’s only $79 for a limited time.