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Signs of a Toxic Workplace and How to Deal with It

Signs of a Toxic Workplace and How to Deal with It

Nobody should be forced to endure the pain of a toxic workplace, yet millions of Americans labor day in and day out in harsh conditions that suppress their identities and submit them to countless injustices.

Rather than wallowing away in a toxic workplace and allowing your hostile coworkers to eat you and your potential alive, you need to learn to recognize the signs of a toxic workplace, so you can effectively deal with it.

Here are the signs of a toxic workplace, and the steps you’ll need to take in order to ensure a healthier work environment and brighter future for your career.

Signs of a Toxic Workplace

1. You’re Cut out of Communication

One of the earliest warning signs that you’re in the midst of a toxic workplace is that you’re finding yourself cut out of communication.

Many women and people of color in particular can attest to the fact that some workers will receive an email where a number of people are CC’d, only to respond to a selective number of the CC’d employees while leaving others in the dark.

Frequently, toxic coworkers will try to silence you or shut you out of the conversation entirely because they don’t want you to contribute ideas that may get you noticed instead of them.

Women at work should be particularly aware of this problem, as countless women in the workplace are familiar with sexist cultures that mitigate their ability to communicate effectively with the rest of the team. According to the Harvard Business Review, women need to take special steps to ensure they’re heard in the workplace rather than allowing toxicity to breed around them.[1]

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If you don’t learn to speak out when you’re getting cut out, you’re going to keep wallowing in isolation forever.

2. Others Take Credit for Your Ideas

Everyone who’s been working for a few years is familiar with the infuriating circumstance where you put forward a new idea, get a lacklustre response, and then witness your coworkers steal your idea and receive credit for themselves.

Colleagues who take credit for your work are more than merely frustrating – it can be downright stressful and even threatening to your career.

Learning how to subvert your colleague’s efforts to make off with your ideas and claim them for your own is an important part of conquering a toxic work environment.

Focus on immediately setting the record straight and learn how to take credit proudly for your own work,[2] and you’ll soon discover that your workplace is noticeably less toxic and insufferable than before.

Besides watching out for greedy coworkers who are eager to steal your ideas, you should also be on the lookout for signs of a toxic workplace like…

3. You’re Not Being Fairly Compensated

One of the biggest warning signs that you’re in a toxic workplace is that you’re not being fairly compensated for the hard work, you’re putting in on behalf of your boss.

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Far too many companies manage to get by with paying their employees criminally low salaries, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit down and quietly endure tiny paychecks that don’t match the effort you put in every day.

Wage gaps can be an incredibly difficult thing to approach, however, with many employees having struggled and failed to attain a raise despite their hard work and pristine records.

It’s imperative to understand that you can’t sit idly by and allow a gender pay gap or any other sort of pay discrepancies exist in your workplace – if your boss can exploit some of his or her employees, there’s little to stop your boss from exploiting all of them.

You need to understand that getting fairly compensated is about more than blaming your coworkers when they receive higher salaries than you. Overcoming the pay gap in the workplace requires the constant vigilance of everyone in the office, as you need to stand together in the fight for a good day’s payment for an honest day’s work.[3]

How to Deal with a Toxic Workplace

Learn How to Negotiate

Now that you’ve come to recognize the gravest warning signs of a toxic workplace, you need to start equipping yourself with the tools and skills needed to reshape your workplace culture.

Learning how to negotiate is a great place to start, as you’ll quickly discover that you need to argue your boss’ ear off if you’re going to get meaningful concessions from them.

Effective communication is the first step in winning any negotiation – you need to clearly establish what you’re seeking from the other party.

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If your boss is harassing you, for instance, or if your coworkers are making you feel uncomfortable and stealing your yogurt, you need to make it quite clear that things need to improve quickly and suddenly; or you’re finding employment elsewhere.

Never forget that you have rights and privileges which can’t be revoked just because your boss wants to earn an extra penny or two.

You’ll want to speak with your coworkers to see if they’re suffering from any issues related to workplace toxicity, too. You can make a much more effective case to your company’s senior officials that change is sorely overdue if you have the backing of most of the workforce.

Oftentimes, your boss may be entirely unaware of the fact that a number of his or her employees are struggling in the first place.

Become an Advocate for Change

You need to become an advocate for change in the workplace by modeling the better way to do business. Rather than shunning your coworkers, for instance, you should be welcoming them with open arms and trying to instill a cheery nature in your office.

Workers who don’t get along with one another are unlikely to overcome workplace toxicity together, after all.

Becoming an advocate for change also necessitates that you keep your ego in check – you may not want to admit it, but your coworkers may be egged on towards toxic behavior as a natural response to unfriendly behavior originating from your cubicle.

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Learn to calm down and take a glass of clean water to help you relax. It can be quite easy to accidentally offend a coworker without ever realizing it, for instance, so constant self-awareness and an ability to detect your own mistakes is an essential part of overcoming workplace toxicity for good.

If you feel that you got off on the wrong foot with a certain coworker and are struggling to deal with their toxicity,[4] you may need to talk to your boss or HR to mediate some conflict resolution between you two.

It’s also important for you to understand that workplace toxicity doesn’t only happen in the workplace – a boss who demands you keep working and check your emails after you’ve clocked out for the day, for instance, is creating a toxic workplace that follows you into your home environment.

Becoming an advocate for positive change means you must recognize the way that our work sometimes chases us out of the office and hounds us even in the midst of our personal lives.

Summing It up

In conclusion, you need to keep an open eye out for harassment in the workplace while also realizing you can contribute to the toxicity of others with unfriendly behavior.

Once you’ve recognized workplace toxicity, talk to our fellow coworkers and establish a game plan for raising the issue with your boss.

Finally, don’t let yourself get burned out in fighting workplace toxicity – after all, treating yourself with respect and giving yourself some occasional time off is the only way to ensure you don’t become toxic yourself.

Featured photo credit: Rashid Sadykov via unsplash.com

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers

13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers

Do you have a path not taken? Maybe you had big career dreams when you were younger, but somehow they didn’t materialize.

Maybe you took your first job, thinking it would be a stepping stone to a better job. It seemed like a good idea at the time, you recall, except the better job never came along. Or perhaps, saddled with student loans, you took a job that helped you pay them off. You paid them all right, but now you feel stuck in a career you don’t really like.

The average person spends 90,000 hours in their lifetime at work[1]. That’s too much time to be doing anything you don’t love!

Is it time to think about switching careers? Here are 13 things to do when making the big leap.

Diagnose Your Current Work Situation

Before switching careers, it’s important to figure out why you’re currently unhappy so you don’t step into another situation that isn’t right for you. Start with these considerations before making any big decisions.

1. What Are You Passionate About?

It’s somewhat shocking, but research shows 87 percent of workers have no passion for their jobs[2]. Passion can be measured many ways, and one person’s passion is another’s poison. Still, if you believe in your company’s core mission, it really helps.

How can you find your passion? You may have to switch careers. Try to arrange informational interviews with as many people as you can who work in the field of your dreams to be certain that making the switch will make you feel more engaged with your work.

Your aim: To be as happy walking into the office on Monday morning as you are leaving the premises on Friday afternoon. When you love your job, no day feels too daunting. When you love your job, it doesn’t feel like work.

Need a little help finding your passion? This article can help: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

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2. Can You Keep up With Technology?

Are you keeping up with it? And is your current company supporting your efforts? The speed of technology is so fast that many companies today can’t keep up. This may result in anxiety among the company’s leadership. The sense of anxiety can filter down and impact the workers. Morale is low, and everyone fears for their job.

When switching careers, try to find a company that will allow you to learn as you grow. It also helps to consider yourself a lifelong learner. These days, we all have to be.

Invest the Time to Dream Big

If you’re now sure of why you want to make a move, it’s time to dig into your dreams to find exactly which direction to go.

3. What Does Your Vision Look Like?

Athletes visualize their signature moves. Politicians fantasize about winning. Your task is to visualize your dream. Where do want to be working five years from now? Ten years from now? Fifteen years from now? Figure out what your titles will be at each point along your new trajectory. Will you be living in your current geographical area or will you have moved?

Ask yourself the hard questions as well. Can you afford to switch careers right now? Will you be making more money or less than you currently do? How will you support those who depend on you?

Once you have your vision clearly committed to paper, run your vision by a few of the people who know you best. Do your friends encourage you to pursue your vision? (If they don’t, consider finding more supportive friends.)

4. Do You Know What to Expect?

It’s harder to switch careers than to find a new job in your current field. You may have to accomplish the move in several discreet steps. Will making a lateral move at your current company take you one step closer to your ultimate goal?

In addition to researching your dream field online, try to surround yourself with some friends who have recently switched careers. After you have formed a rough idea of the steps you will need to take to get from where you are now to your new career, consider committing it to an action plan. The more concrete you can make your Plan, the better.

Should you be attending more networking events? Do you need to burnish your online profile? Commit to action steps, and then put those steps into your daily calendar. You’re going to do this!

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If, for instance, you’ve decided to move from marriage counseling to financial planning — you’ve seen enough divorces resulting from money matters to know there’s a better way to help people — your listening skills and discretion will be an asset. Your research will reveal whether you need specialized training or licensing to qualify. If so, go online and add your name to every list you can find to learn more information. Start calculating how to pay for your courses. A bonus you’ll get with continuing ed courses: you’ll gain access to a strong peer network.

Take Action

Time to make the move. Start considering how you will approach these steps to get where you want to go.

5. Who Will Support You?

What if, early in your career, you made a job switch that you regret? Now is the time to call your ex-boss and try to get together for lunch or a cup of coffee. Let them know you are thinking of making a U-turn back to your former field.

What if your sister disapproves of every idea you have? Either resolve to avoid her for the next 12 months or call her right now — and tell her you’re switching careers and you don’t care whether she approves! Keep all naysayers at a distance during this transition time.

6. What Can You Do Each Day to Accomplish Your Dream?

Switching careers can be quite time-consuming, but if you break down the task into small chunks, tracking your progress as you go, you’ll have a better chance of success. Whether you spend a few hours today googling your dream career, or refurbish your LinkedIn profile to emphasize the skills you have that will help you land this new job — just keep at it.

Career-switcher’s hint: Working on your new dream for one hour each day is more productive than spending 12 hours working at it on a Sunday. The more committed you are to achieving your goal, the faster it will happen.

7. Does Your Resume Highlight the Correct Skills?

First, research the qualifications of the position you hope to land. Then, look for ways to mesh them with your own skills. While some careers require specific degrees and credentials, there are many positions you can transition into that require no additional education. Sometimes, what you bring from your own background is perfect.

Take inventory of all the hard and soft job skills you possess. For the skills you don’t have, put a plan in place to acquire them!

Highlight your qualifications in a way that makes a well-argued case for your compatibility with the organization and the position you’re after. Keep in mind that all employers look for candidates with skills that show leadership and the ability to solve problems, persevere through challenges, and get results.

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Refine the skills on your resume to incorporate these resume “musts.” Make sure, though, to only claim skills you truly possess. Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

Switching Careers Shortcuts

When switching careers, there are ways to make it easier. Look into these questions to see what can work for you in your search.

8. Do You Have Any Contacts in Your Desired Career?

People are remarkably forthcoming on their LinkedIn profiles. This helps when you search out employees in your dream field or a targeted company. But before you take full advantage of online networking, first make sure that your profile content is fresh.

Curate all social media accounts to reflect your new direction. Social media can increase your networking opportunities exponentially. Comment on the posts of your targeted contacts and pose pertinent questions to get on their radar.

9. Are You Networking Enough?

While it may be considered old-school to tap your organically grown (offline) network, it still comes with the best odds of success. Reach out to your friends and acquaintances with industry connections who can help you make a connection.

Make a point of meeting face-to-face with anyone who can offer you a lead or provide a reference. You never know what kind of opportunity will unfold from these offline connections.

Learn more about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

10. How Can You Become an Expert in Your New Field?

Start building the skills you’ll need to make your career switch. LinkedIn and many other providers offer online courses in everything from accounting software to mastering Excel. For extra credit, see if you can find classes that award online badges for completing each course. Don’t be shy about adding these certificates to your online profile.

Read trade magazines and study up on industry trends. Write and post articles on timely topics. Develop an online presence in the field of your dreams.

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11. Are You Willing to Put Yourself out There?

Nonprofit organizations often look for volunteers to help them with their outreach, social media, fundraising, and more. Once you’ve mastered the needed skills, be sure to have the head of the organization or a board member write a glowing recommendation for you.

Depending on your desired career, it may be possible to take on a contract assignment at a company where you learn on the job. A freelance gig allows you to polish your skills, make connections, and prove you’re serious about this career change.

For example, if your dream is to transform your knack for attracting followers through pithy postings into a career as a social media manager, don’t be afraid to pitch your services. Most companies need someone to manage their online presence and may welcome your fresh new strategy.

Switching Careers Results

Now that you’ve taken the steps to switch careers, bask in the success you’ve found in doing so.

12. How Can You Reward Yourself?

Set whatever benchmarks you need to achieve as you embark on switching careers, and think of them as cause for mini-celebrations. Find frugal ways to reward yourself.

However, hold out for the big, pop-the-champagne celebration until you land your dream job.

13. Has the Risk Paid Off?

People who prefer to play it safe throughout their careers often fall short of their potential. Research shows the primary reason executives derail is an inability to change[3]. It takes a large measure of courage to pursue a new path. And when you succeed, it fuels your confidence.

You have an air of self-assurance about you and a can-do spirit that stands out. And best of all, you’ll have moved from a dead-end or lackluster job to one into which you can pour your passion and realize the feeling of self-fulfillment.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to switch your career path once you’ve outgrown the one you’re in. Set out to intentionally pursue career satisfaction and you’ll reap great rewards by realizing the joys of job satisfaction.

More Tips on Switching Careers

Featured photo credit: Kevin Bhagat via unsplash.com

Reference

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