Are your coworkers always fighting like they’re on an episode Maury? Do you cringe at the sound of your boss’ voice? Do you find it difficult to get into the office or log online to work every morning? You might feel exhausted at the end, but you can’t help but think about all the difficult tasks you have to face at work. These are signs that you may be in a toxic workplace.
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Clinical health psychologist Amy Sullivan, PsyDThis video explains how to recognize signs of toxic environments, how to manage symptoms, and when it is time to leave.
What is a toxic workplace?
A toxic work environment can be caused by many factors, including systemic problems and the aggressive behavior of your boss or colleagues. Dr. Sullivan says that it is not as important to analyze every detail that makes a place toxic as what you feel in the gut.
Dr. Sullivan says that a toxic work environment is a feeling, not a checklist. People can tell when they are in a toxic environment by listening to their gut and physical responses.
To determine if youre in a toxic work environment, you should start by asking yourself a simple question: Does my workplace align with my value system?
Dr. Sullivan says that your value system is basically what you believe, your core values and the things that are most important to who you are. It’s the foundation of your personality, beliefs, and behavior. Your core beliefs are strong values you will not compromise.
Signs that you’re in a toxic atmosphere
You may feel the strain if you work with colleagues who don’t share your values or if you have to follow procedures that aren’t in line with your beliefs, Stress can lead to psychological and physical reactions. Here are some signs that you’re in a poor work environment.
You feel nauseated because of your gut reactions
It sounds superficial, but it is really important to listen and follow your gut.
Your gut reaction can be intuitive but it also includes the feeling that something is not right for you right now. Dr. Sullivan says that it could be the way I am being spoken to or the way I am not being included.
If you feel this icky feeling, take a walk and get some fresh air. Try to look at both sides of the issue. If you continue to feel nauseated or have this icky feeling on an ongoing basis, you could be dealing with toxic conditions.
You have trouble sleeping because your brain won’t shut off.
Unfortunately, we are not always able to leave work at the door. SleeplessnessThis is a red flag that something is seriously wrong.).
Sleep is restorative. It helps our bodies regenerate and rejuvenate. Dr. Sullivan states that if we lack this ability, we cannot think and respond throughout the day. Our own worries can also cause sleeplessness. You might be wondering, “What if I’m the problem?” There’s a chance it could be something else.
Dr. Sullivan explains that we tend to look at ourselves and think it’s our problem.
You feel tight in your muscles, have headaches or joint pain.
The full-body sensation of Tension in your musclesProblems with the back, joints and spine can lead to serious problems. Tension can lead to other problems if it is not addressed. Chronic pain can be caused by muscle tightness. MigrainesDr. Sullivan also mentions other sensations that do not feel great.
Microaggressions are common in the workplace
Sometimes, toxic work environments don’t manifest in physical manifestations. Sometimes it’s hard to spot and can manifest as microaggressions. Microaggressions refer to subtle interactions or behaviors that convey a bias toward historically marginalized people, especially those of different races, genders, or sexual preferences.
Historically marginalized communities are more likely to face discrimination. Dr. Sullivan says that it is crucial that we pay special attention to how diverse populations feel in an environment, that their voices are heard, and most importantly that we care for each other.
Instead of a feeling of gratitude, there is an attitude that is more like one of entitlement.
There is always room for improvement. However, if you don’t feel valued or heard, if you aren’t being compensated fairly for your work, or if your needs as an employee have not been met, then you might be dealing with entitled leaders. Dr. Sullivan says that employees feel overlooked and underappreciated when they feel entitled.
There is a lackluster enthusiasm and potential for growth
It’s normal to feel the thrill of a job. If you feel stuck in a job or unable to grow, it might be time to leave.
Communicate with your administrative staff and anyone else in your organization to get their opinions on your strengths and areas for growth. You should also give them a vision of where you see yourself going in the future. Dr. Sullivan says that you want to be heard and that your work is appreciated.
Leadership expectations are unreasonable
Are you willing to stay up late every night? Weekend work without compensation? These are pressure situations where your boss might take advantage of your work weekends.
Dr. Sullivan states that a toxic workplace is one where there is little communication and your leader is not open to your needs. We must be able to communicate. We must be able to ask for assistance. If help is not offered, it is a sign that something is seriously wrong.
You are experiencing a major work-life conflict
This one is hard. Many of us who have had to change to work from home find the boundaries between our personal and professional lives increasingly blurred. This can be applied to many situations. Stress can cause physical symptomsEven if you’re not working.
Dr. Sullivan states that toxic work environments have a direct impact on the people you care the most about.
Tips to deal with toxic work environments
Toxic work environments can be dangerous for your mental and physical well-being. There are ways to manage symptoms and get out of this situation.
Find a support network of coworkers
First, it is important to unite. Rely on the camaraderie of your peers; if you’re experiencing these symptoms, chances is that you’re not the only one. It is vital to be a friend to others who are suffering from microaggressions. You can also establish friendships with people who care about your well-being, even if the company or certain leaders may not.
Dr. Sullivan suggests that having a friend or ally at work helps you feel supported and connected.
Consider a program for employee coaching
Some companies offer employees coaches through human resources. If they do not, it is possible for them to hire one for a few sessions to get to the root of what is really happening.
There are coaches that can help you analyze the situation and determine how you can make changes to your mindset or set goals. Dr. Sullivan suggests that it is a good idea to talk with someone who is objective about what you are going through.
Take some time for you
You should also find ways of recovering when you log off. Do something you enjoy. This can be done through a variety self-care routines, projects, or simply by giving yourself space to let go and relax. This will not only help improve your work-life balance but also allows you to do something that is completely unrelated. Dr. Sullivan says that you should always look for your joy. This is something I cannot stress enough.
You know when it’s time to go
Ah, yes, Taylor Swift would agree, “When the dinner is cold and chatter gets old, you ask to have the tab.”
Take a moment to check in with your body and listen to your gut. If you have tried to address some of your problems but nothing has worked, then take small steps towards making it better.
Do not settle for a toxic environment at work. Dr. Sullivan states that it is not worth your mental or physical health or your important relationships. There are many ways to manage your emotions. However, if you’re being disrespected, it’s not OK to continue living in that environment.