Setting Boundaries: How To Protect Yourself from Unhealthy Work Environment at Work
Picture source: Medium
In an ideal world, we would all work in healthy, happy environments, where leaders model good working relationships and where workplaces and management promote Positive development, personal growth and sustainable happiness. Unfortunately, our world is far from ideal and some workplaces can fall short. When this happens, our sole responsibility is to protect our happiness, relationships and growth in the workplace.
Here’s how to protect yourself from toxicity at work:
1. Are You Perpetuating Toxicity?
The first protective factor is to consider whether you are someone who encourages toxicity in the workplace. We can experience toxicity but at the same time we can perpetuate it without realizing it. The two are not mutually exclusive. The easiest way to resolve this issue if you participate is to opt out. You don't have to back down and fight the poison, nor do you have to keep feeding it. To start, you can choose to be relaxed and neutral while you find your feet and gain a better understanding of your position.
Workplace coaching – whether group or individual coaching – can be a great tool to help shine a light on workplace toxicity. This can be a forum where your experiences can be heard and addressed, which is the first step to solving any problems. Once the problem has been examined and understood, coaching can assist in developing and implementing strategies to solve the problem. Ideally, coaching should be conducted by an outside party or a completely neutral party in these cases, not by a manager or colleague. If released by a known party, it could have a negative rather than positive impact.
3. Feedback & Evaluation
Feedback and evaluation can also help promote accountability and transparency in the workplace, two antidotes to toxicity. These comments and reviews should also be sent to everyone, regardless of the individual's rank. However, this element clearly depends on the team's ability to provide and receive feedback in an honest and constructive manner. If this is not possible, it may be necessary to engage external consultants to assist with the process.
4. Be Courageous Where You Feel Able To
Sometimes the only way to fight workplace toxicity is to find the courage to speak up. There is understandably a lot of fear, anxiety, and stress that comes with going against the grain and defying toxicity, especially if no one else speaks up. This protective factor may not be for everyone, but for some, finding their voice and expressing themselves can be an empowering step and can have a positive impact on their career or even their lives. It could be a small step, like stepping back and speaking up calmly and clearly when you feel like you're being treated inappropriately, or it could be a bigger step, like talking to your manager. Courage comes in many shapes and sizes, let your instincts guide you and what works best for you and what doesn't work for you with this.
5. Model Healthy Behaviors
Set an example for those you work with and manage. Model the behavior you want to see in others and stick to it. Treating others as you want to be treated is a simple and common idea, but it has a huge impact. When we do this consistently, we gain the trust and respect of those around us. Gradually, we can begin to influence the culture and behavior of others, potentially bringing more balance to a toxic environment.