Every one of us has been in toxic environments in both our personal and professional lives. Toxic partners, toxic friends, toxic colleagues, and why not toxic relatives. Toxicity is poison. A poison that slowly kills our mood, our productivity and our desire for anything. Breaking away from this environment and setting boundaries may be the lifeline you need. And although it seems so simple in words, the truth is that it takes a lot of courage and determination to say “END”.

But how and when to say “NO” to things and people that don’t make us happy, but on the contrary – make us feel bad. To those who drink the last drop of energy from us?

Yes, life is not rosy, although some look at it through rose-colored glasses from time to time to make it seem less complicated than it actually is. Every one of us experiences ups and downs. We go through difficult moments, but we also experience many beautiful and happy ones.

And even though finding your dream job and the perfect partner are very outdated clichés that a sober-minded person wouldn’t believe or wait for, that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to find “The One” and be happy.

But is it possible that we love our work but the toxic atmosphere and culture of the workplace makes us feel nervous, anxious, stressed, and unproductive? To have your heart clench as you commute to work and begin to experience constant feelings of depression and anxiety that you carry home? When is it time to burst the toxic work atmosphere bubble before it becomes the norm?

Stay tuned because today we’re going to look at the TOP 5 signs of a toxic work atmosphere and culture and how to deal with them according to career consultant Ellie Bohemond.

Lack of boundaries at work

According to Eli Bohemond, toxic cultures often make it normal and glorify a lack of healthy boundaries, pushing you to prioritize work over everything else. However, this leads to a very serious burnout and severe consequences afterwards. In some companies, employees are often expected to stay after work to finish some tasks or answer emails over the weekend.

People don’t trust each other

In a toxic work environment, the lack of trust between colleagues is palpable. Bohemond gives the example of an organization in which the management team’s offices face the desks of employees, allowing them to monitor each employee’s activities. Or a work environment in which managers are constantly calling people on the team to check in on what they are doing.

The interpersonal relationships between employees

The dynamics between people are lacking in vitality and this is clearly evident from observing interactions in the workplace, says Bohemond. He suggests that one can recognize emotional well-being in the workplace by observing how people interact with each other. Are they exchanging smiles and pleasant conversations as they make their morning coffee, or do most people seem indifferent, eyes glued to their phone screens. Do they share humor and memes on Slack, or do their messages carry an undercurrent of disdain? “The overall atmosphere and body language of people convey the atmosphere of the workplace,” he notes.

There is no support for employee development

According to Bohemond, many people in toxic jobs have to fend for themselves because there is no mentoring or support to help them develop. This particularly affects entry-level employees – who are left alone in such a workplace, leading to demotivation and frustration – as well as employees from marginalized communities, who typically receive very little support to turn their potential into growth opportunities anyway.

No room for mistakes

It’s human to make mistakes, especially when you’re new and inexperienced. However, there are companies where it is strictly forbidden to make mistakes, whether you are a senior or junior employee. In such an environment, people start doing everything they can to avoid being blamed and to get ahead of their colleagues – for example, not sharing work-related information with teammates or passing the blame to colleagues if something goes wrong.

This type of culture can be particularly toxic. A constant sense of superiority and perfection would lead to nothing good except more stressful situations and depressed employees.

Now that you know what the basic signs of a work culture are, it’s time to share with you how to burst that toxic bubble and move forward without more stress and depression.

In broad terms, you’re faced with two possibilities: endure the toxic environment or depart. While it might seem straightforward, the reality is staying may be necessary, at least for a time, for various reasons. Perhaps an immediate departure isn’t feasible due to financial constraints, or alternative opportunities in your field are scarce. Additionally, your current company might provide unique benefits—such as remote work in an industry slow to adopt it, or a significant childcare subsidy essential for your family’s financial stability—that add complexity to the decision-making process.

Bohemond recommends looking inward and asking yourself questions like:

                                                                                How do I react when confronted with toxic behavior?

                                                                                        What role can I play to change the situation?

                                                                                                What is preventing me from leaving?

If you still don’t want to quit because, despite the environment, you like the job and the conditions are good, then take a sabbatical and rest for a while. During this time you can indulge in time with friends and family, walks in nature and do the things that distract and give you pleasure. It’s also a good idea to talk to a psychologist about your condition, it can be very helpful.

Remember that the power lies within and the best is yet to come!

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