How dealing with a toxic work environment can be a valuable learning experience.

A few years ago, I was constantly being publicly criticised, belittled, excluded from meetings, given tasks with very little guidance and unrealistic deadlines etc (the list is endless).

A stressful time, the first in my career where I questioned my ability and capability. The situation did start to consume me, constantly worrying about work, being on edge and thinking about what else could happen. I knew that I needed to take action, concluding that no one could make me feel inferior without my consent. I was adamant that I would not fall into “victim” behaviours, constantly reminding myself that I was not the problem. It was also important to me  that  my home, family, social, or work life would not be affected. The decision was to take control and manage the situation, this commenced with not giving the “toxic” person headspace. This transcended into positive self-talk and celebrating success. I didn’t dwell, rethink or relive events and maintained a positive outlook.

Keeping a diary of events and emails helped me put things into perspective. It took the emotion out of the situation and I started to realise that it was only a job and although I really enjoyed it, it could be replaced. With this outlook I started to realise that I was in control of the future.

Luckily I had a the support of colleagues and line managers, who all proved to be invaluable. On reflection a mentor would have been instrumental in allowing the discussion of situation and to test out thoughts and possible actions/outcomes.

Understanding what made me tick and my triggers was imperative. On the many occasions where my triggers were pressed I was able to remain calm and professional; always in in control of my reactions and any actions taken. It was very empowering, allowing me to feel calm and to let go of any negativity.

The toxicity eventually ceased, leaving me to get on with my job. I am not sure how this came about but I suspect that there was an intervention at some level.

It was a very unpleasant time, but I now realise that it was a valuable learning experience where I gained “grit”, “tenacity”, “determination” and “gumption”.

Remember to look for the positives from any situation. Don’t let toxic people frame who you are, don’t let them limit your joy and enthusiasm for life. You are worth so much more.

In my own research, I found these handy tips about how to deal with this situation if you’re looking for some extra reading!

If you’re looking for more personal advice around dealing with a toxic work environment, please feel free to contact me and we can have a chat around what options are available.

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