Ever wonder if you’re in a toxic workplace? Be careful because whatever environment you live or work in, should not compromise your mental health
Environments in all organisations, whether conglomerates or small enterprises, have the potential to become highly toxic. A potent negative influence can easily permeate all over the workplace space like a wildfire. It is pretty insidious and it becomes tough to identify which corner of the operations the dilemma is arising from and how to prevent such menace.
Vaibhav Datar a Midlife Coach states it all starts with “Human-behaviour” which holds outstanding significance; toxic human-behavior is also called “Loss of Human Touch.” If it is present in your environment, it can shift your barometers especially in the work culture where you tend to spend most of the time. People who bully, cheat, create drama, discrimination, favoritism, infighting, gossips, aggression, breed hatred, steal or are disrespectful common; but these elements prove to be hazardous for professionals who choose not to retaliate with malice or disagreement in fear of losing their job or their position. These become vulnerable and easy targets. This weighs down on the professional’s mental health.
Before we dive into how to deal with it let us understand why “human–behaviour” is solely responsible for a languishing rather than a peaceful or productive workspace.
‘Cognitive dissonance’ creates havoc in human life it encourages a phenomenal shift in behavioral patterns due to certain misinterpretations. Human beings are creatures of various emotions, which shape realms of perception and also manifest internal insecurities. Cognitive dissonance arises when our internal ideology is under threat due to certain episodes; for instance, individuals become highly arrogant or uncomfortable with their “self-image” colliding with “perceived belief or inner reality”.
Datar talks about the various situations and how to deal with them.
5 cognitive dissonance signs present in your environment that suggest your workplace is highly toxic:
- Human Selfishness plagues every work environment. An individual who consistently exhibits selfish norms. This manifests by taking advantage of others.
- People who rain on your parade when they feel envy or jealousy. This dragon stalls your improvement creating groups against another, negative gossips, sabotaging or even bullying a colleague.
- The ‘Boss, but no Boss’ situation. Favouritism and nepotism leads to discrimination, favouring those with no leadership skills of and working against team building and team leading. Also notice if your boss exhibits exploitation behavior.
- Turning a blind eye to sexual harassment like – flirting, inappropriate touch, sexual comments and jokes etc.
- Disrespectful and rudeness by seniors to their subordinates
How to Deal with such an environment:
Meditate for ten minutes in the middle of your break or before you leap into any work. Cultivate mindfulness and concentration. Practice hypnosis in your workplace – hypnosis is a self-meditating practice and is the answer to reduce peripheral mental health condition in professionals. One simple technique for it is the ‘Mental Imaginary technique’ which can keep you going. Relax on the chair, close your eyes, breath slowly and evenly from your stomach and not from the chest; deep dive into the past recalling amazing moments which keep the ability to make you feel energised and happy. After that image turn to work with positive feelings from the memory you have garnered.
Dealing with Selfishness:
Always remember their aim is to utilise your best quality for their specific benefits. So you should:
- First and foremost try to comprehend their possible needs towards you.
- Starve them for the attention they carve.
- Stay true to yourself and your work by not allowing yourself to do any favours for them.
- Give yourself the attention you deserve the most.
- And do not quit for any reason
Dealing with jealous people
Remember, their aim here is to put your feelings down, harm you and put you in anguishing situations. You should:
- Stop comparing yourself with others and stay focused on your goals
- Don’t Change your belief due to any negative comment.
- Show respect to those who envy you.
- Be alone and accomplish your ‘self-goals’, if you don’t fit into their group
- Always smile and greet them happily so as to avoid any face to face conflicts.
- Don’t pay attention to what they say about you because they do not finance your ambitions and needs.
- Don’t tell them your plans.
- Don’t tell them your techniques of achieving these plans
- Keep surprising them with your constant achievement and performance.
Dealing with Boss-no-Boss Situation
We must all take an attempt to buffer the negative effect of bias present in the environment. You should:
- Speak up! Understand the environment, see if your colleagues are going through the same situation, speak to them openly regarding the same for a solution and have a support system against prejudice and acts of discrimination.
- Recognise the different job levels or a job tittles. An individual maybe granted a task as per his level of responsibility and capabilities which you might be unaware of.
- Concentrate on targeted recruitment strategies
- Don’t hesitate to complain for any discrimination or exploitation behaviour. Keep a detail log of events if in case you decide to complain to your HR recruiters, human resources department.
- Be calm and patient and ask your seniors to come out with a solution for the same
Dealing with Sexual Harassment
It’s very important to report sexual harassment. Do not be afraid to retaliate and report against the misconduct. You should:
- First and foremost, don’t treat yourself as a victim, be strong enough to fight back
- Understand the body language if it is inappropriate
- Retaliate with a professional attitude by avoiding the person and not speaking to the person except if there’s any work lagging.
- You must also have appropriate body language of strictness, be typically strict and set some rules with the person who tries to flirt, comment or joke.
- If anyone touches inappropriately, say no, scream and shout in front of everyone be bold enough to thrash the person (This makes the people around you aware of the misconduct and same shall the person never try it again due to image-shaming situations)
- When alone with the person for some pending task or traveling for a business meeting, kindly carry some appropriate protection with you like pepper spray, learn some of the self defence techniques
- If things get worse seek help from the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is a legislative Act which seeks to protect women from any sexual harassment at their place of work.
Deal with disrespect and rudeness
- Don’t be impatient with your answers
- Neutralize your body language
- If you want to answer back, be clever about how you do so
- Don’t fight with your seniors
- Try building a strong group support
- Learn to take negative feedback from your seniors regarding work
- Don’t allow any judgmental comments in regards to your appearance
- Ask for clarification, help and problem solving techniques from the same person only once or twice if you do not understand something
- Don’t take anything personally