Thread Lightly: Navigating Toxic Work Environments

Thread Lightly: Navigating Toxic Work Environments

It’s Monday morning. How do you feel? If the very thought of going into work makes you want to slink back down under the blanket, well you’re not alone.

The Yahoo Finance article Dread Mondays? So Do 66% of Americans — Here’s How To Fix That, cites a LinkedIn survey which found that 66% of professionals say they experience the “Sunday Scaries.”

But what causes this anxiety on Sunday nights? More than likely, it’s the very thought of having to go into the office on Monday morning.

In episode 82, The Workplace Wasteland: Dealing with a Toxic Work Environment, we shared that for many employees, life in the office entails navigating stressful situations beyond the actual work itself. And for marginalized employees, workplace complications can be compounded due to interpersonal biases. From microaggressions to entitled managers, employees are heading into the office with a sense of dread.

So we’re going to give you five C-CRETS on how to deal with a toxic work environment.

Find ways to detach from work

Finding ways to detach from work comes down to understanding that your job does not determine your worth. Your job may be a paycheck,  a means to accomplish your bigger life goals, or you may be genuinely passionate about what you do. However, within the world of work, things can change at any time, including you and your employer deciding to part ways.

What would happen then?

Both you and your former employer would move on.

Therefore, no matter your perception of the place where you work, having some sense of detachment from your organization can benefit you mentally and emotionally. In episode 82, we shared several tips of how to detach, including taking up a hobby.

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Hold individuals and the organization accountable

Many toxic situations are swept under the rug when there’s no accountability. Not only that, but a lack of accountability fosters even more toxicity within any organizational structure when individuals know there are no repercussions for their actions.

As an employee, pick up that company manual you were given during your first week of work. It remains important that you’re able to protect yourself by knowing your company’s policies. This can also help you should you need to advocate for yourself.

Always be aware of your organization’s policies and procedures by reading the fine print.

Build your village

We spend a large amount of time living our lives in a work setting, therefore its critical that you don’t make your career journey a lonely experience for yourself.

As individuals, you’ll need a village to help support your personal and career growth. That village should be a combination of people inside and outside your organization.

Village members outside of your organization can give you a sense of comfort, rationalize where you may have blind spots, and cheer you on throughout your career journey. While the village members inside of the organization can also prove to be valuable by offering you allyship. In addition, it is these people who’ll fully understand much of what you’re experiencing.

They’ll know who the leaders are when you’re dishing out your grievances, would’ve had their own experiences with the colleague you’ve had a disagreement with, and can be there to help you brainstorm how to navigate through a problem. They can also offer insights into projects you’re working on, because they’re knowledgeable about the details.

By cultivating your relationships, you’ll have a team of people who can offer you some needed support.

Learn and leverage

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In the article “7 Stats that Prove Training Value” on the website HR Network Exchange, 94 percent of employees would choose to stay with an organization longer if there was an investment in learning.

If your workplace offers training opportunities, online workshops, lunch and learns,

or any type of learning opportunity that can benefit you, you should utilize it.

Building up your skillset while at your job ensures that you not only remain competitive as an employee, but it positions you for your next opportunity.

By learning and leveraging training, you’ll be better able to cope with a toxic work environment because you’re building up valuable skills.

And if all else fails, there is one more thing you can do when dealing with stress and a toxic work environment. 


Before you break down, break away from the toxic work environment.

During the episode, we shared with our listeners that at some point, it’s just not worth it.

You’ve been making a valuable contribution to your employer. If you weren’t, you would have been fired long ago. There are plenty of opportunities out there where you don’t have to sacrifice your sanity for a paycheck.

Create an exit strategy and look for another organization to work at where your contributions will be valued.

The wrap up—the angst that can come when thinking about Mondays at work doesn’t have to become your norm. Start by adding one or more of the above strategies into your weekly routine, so you can sleep well this weekend.

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