Experiencing Toxicity in the Workplace? 5 Ways to Rise Above and Prosper

I once asked my students in the Career Preparation course I teach at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago how many have ever had a “bad boss” or toxic colleague (or classmate). Over 90% raised their hands.

There’s a lot we need to do as a culture to improve the workplace. While generally speaking, the workplace is moving in a more empathetic, positive direction, toxic environments still exist.

So what can you do to remain positive if you find yourself in this type of situation?

We feel it, we’re told it, and the research supports it: friends matter. Having someone we’re close with at work helps us, but having people in your corner, who get you, and understand your circumstances—good or bad, is extremely helpful in the workplace.

Find a Compatriot.

You don’t need to communicate your concerns or uneasiness with colleagues, but you do need to communicate them to someone.

Talk With Someone.

You have PTO and a lunch break for a reason. You need this even more if you’re in a toxic environment. It’s nice to dart off to a tropical island to recharge—and if you can, and that’s what you want, you should!

Take Breaks and Use Your PTO.

Boundaries are critical for a healthy work environment. Make your boundaries clear and communicate them with your manager and colleagues, and don't budge.

Establish and Honor Your Limits.

Set goals for yourself—and, if you've reached your limit, make getting out one of them. I used to be shocked when my clients would tell me they’ve been in a toxic work environment—or simply painstakingly unhappy—for years.

Create an Exit Strategy.

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