Unfortunately, a toxic work environment is far too common of a complaint.
And equally unfortunate is that it is an experience that many are having every day.
You may immediately say, “yeah, me too!”
But what if You are the reason that the toxicity exists?
We like to believe that toxic behavior comes from the obviously toxic other person. Someone who is easily angered, constantly complaining, or otherwise creating an unwelcoming environment every day is clearly the problem.
But it may be hard to accept that the “someone” can be you!
The reality is that becoming toxic can sneak up on you. You may have:
Stayed too long at a job that you have outgrown,
Bitten your tongue too often with a boss you don’t agree with,
Created a safety net of colleagues that are negative all the time or
Lost your boundaries between personal and business etiquette for a job you’ve been at forever
And slowly, without realizing it, you have become part of the problem.
Because you have tolerated or participated in unhealthy work experiences and relationships, you have allowed yourself to become a different person as a byproduct of these decisions.
Now, from the outside looking in, you are the toxic one.
And you may not even know it!
Here are 3 signs that You may be the toxic coworker creating a toxic work environment:
#1 Constant Complaining
You may not realize it but you complain about everything.
If your boss addresses the team, it is never delivered the right way.
If the company initiates a new process, it’s never going to work.
No matter the action taken, you receive it as poorly executed or just not smart.
In your mind, you may have a perfectly reasonable rationale for this thought.
Related Post: How to Survive Working for a Boss You Hate
You have been at the company long enough to see the issues time and time again:
A poorly executed communication from the top
A completely non-thought-out plan of action from your boss
Zero communication with the people who do the job every day before completely changing a process by some random project team
You have seen ALL the signs!
So why would calling it out suddenly be your fault!!
The action may not be your fault.
But the constant reiterating and complaining for hours, days, or weeks can feel faulty to others and easily becomes another issue on top of everything else.
If the problem is so pervasive, so consistent, and so obvious, others know it without your communicating it.
You do not have to be the mouthpiece for pointing out what everyone else can clearly see.
How to Kick the Complaining Habit
Instead of frowning, shaking your head, rolling your eyes, or just constantly, excessively, nauseatingly complaining, do something about it.
It is leaps and bounds more productive to create a solution instead of belaboring the problem:
Champion a new process so that you can be a key communicator of its progress. This can give you front-row seats to try something new, give you an opportunity to share positive outcomes, and also a channel to suggest changes based on actual data instead of just opinion.
Ask to speak with your boss privately and then ask if your boss is open to feedback on a problem you see. Share your concerns in a thoughtful manner. Focus your constructive criticism on the process, not on people, where possible.
Carefully consider any new processes, proposals, or communication to see if any positive changes have occurred since your last negative experience. Look for and be genuinely optimistic for seeing even small positive progression.
In all cases, it is better to be a part of the solution than to constantly reiterate a problem.
And it is even more productive to share concerns with people who can make positive changes than to complain to those who can only suffer with you and through you.
You can choose to be a solutionist or risk the potential of creating a toxic environment by being a constant complainer.
#2. Accidental Gossiping
Private business and personal information often turn up in any work environment.
People talk about and share all facets of their life all the time.
But any version of sharing information about another person in a negative or disparaging manner can be considered much more than just talk. Quite often it can be perceived as gossiping.
And when this occurs habitually it can become toxic.
Are you a habitual over-sharer? Do you feel that when asked a question you must give the most comprehensive overview possible, even if it is not asked of you?
Toxic over-sharing and gossiping can occur as a means to deflect blame, to create perceived superiority over others, or to generate a feeling of self-importance.
Taking these types of actions at the expense of others can create a spirit of distrust and discomfort between you and your co-workers.
How Do You Recognize If You Are an Accidental Gossip
Have you done something like this before:
Other Department: “Hey, can you let me know the status of those entries? Just want to make sure I am ready for the next step when it hits my desk”
You: “Oh yeah. No problem. I’ll be done soon. Sally had to go to the school AGAIN for her son so she’s behind on her entries and I’m helping her out”.
What could have seemed like an innocent answer to a question, results in creating a highly uncomfortable situation.
This can make the receiving party uncomfortable and can make the person spoken about feel violated and exposed should they learn of the disclosure.
These types of accidental gossiping scenarios happen all the time. And when repeat instances occur and are not redirected, a toxic environment can ensue.
To Avoid Being Perceived as a Gossip, Adopt Communication Sensitivity
Never share others’ personal information, even if you were not directly told to keep the information private. Just don’t share.
Be friendly but concise when responding to others’ inquiries. Eliminate unnecessary details that are not asked explicitly to avoid unintentionally disclosing private, confidential, or inaccurate information.
Consider others when speaking on their behalf or about them. Before you make a statement, imagine if the same statement was to be made about you. Would you find it kind or hurtful?
Being exposed to a gossiping work environment can make others feel embarrassed, unsafe, and targeted.
Hearing negative things about a co-worker can lead others to disengage with them, distrust them, or consider them incompetent.
These experiences can cause those involved to have poor work relationships, feel disconnected from the business, and overall create a toxic work environment.
#3 Being Bitter
All forms of toxicity are not overt. Regularly practicing a lack of communication, lack of collaboration, or lack of cooperation can be toxic.
But you may feel completely justified for your disposition.
Maybe you received feedback regarding your perceived but inaccurately identified negative demeanor in the past. Or you feel that your input is never listened to or considered so to protect your emotions you decided to stop giving it.
Over time you decide distance and quiet are your best and only resolutions. But instead of being calm and content in your work, you are noticeably resentful and unapproachable:
You shrug your shoulders and turn away when you don’t know an answer.
You point to where your boss or co-worker is instead of verbally communicating their location.
You make a point to offer zero communication in any meeting or discussion in which you are asked to participate.
It is impossible for anyone to not know that you are mad about something all the time!
But in your mind, you are avoiding a problem versus causing one. (Since you seem to always cause a problem anyway).
How Do You Communicate When According to Everyone Else You Seem to Always Get It Wrong?
There are times when you may need to be different than the otherwise happy-go-lucky, chipper team member that others expect.
You may have recently been reprimanded, had a terrible meeting, or even suffered private concerns at home that essentially make you feel bad.
You cannot always put on a happy face when you are internally struggling with something. However, when you hold on too long to a bitter disposition, like it or not, it affects your work.
Part of being at work is showing up fully.
And if you work in an environment with others, part of showing up fully is interacting with others…..productively.
Even if you keep your interactions brief and to the point, you can still be a collaborative, cooperative, and communicative team member.
Improve How You Connect with Others
Give good eye contact when responding to questions. Addressing a person eye-to-eye is a sign of respect and attentiveness
Speak in full sentences and not with one-word answers or gestures. This ensures that others are clear regarding your input. And provides an opportunity for follow-up communication should it be warranted.
Be approachable. If you cannot be warm, at least provide a neutral tone of voice. Being overtly stern, annoyed, or dismissive can be interpreted as uncooperative.
While anyone can have a bad day and in severe circumstances even bad weeks or months, the goal is to do your part to be a productive part of your team.
If behaving in a cooperative and collaborative manner just is too much, explore taking time off from work. Or, if possible, actively work toward correcting the issue(s) that is causing you concern.
Constant isolation and portraying a disgruntled behavior becomes toxic when you become so shut down that others become unproductive and overly distracted by your behavior.
You may think that you are making yourself invisible and unimpactful but, in fact, you are creating a very noticeably toxic environment.
Consider This: You Could Legitimately Become Toxic Because of a Toxic Work Environment
It may be unsettling to discover that you have become the cause of someone else suffering a toxic work environment.
But there may also have been a time when you were victim to toxic surroundings and could have easily listed these traits in someone else.
If you have started to become a product of a toxic environment, it may be an important time to make a change:
Explore and examine how you interact with others and ask for feedback from those you trust to be transparent and honest with you.
Track your mental and emotional status at the beginning and end of your work day and see if you have a pattern of being frustrated, annoyed, or disgruntled about work regularly.
Watch for the behaviors described in this post or other negative behaviors that you feel are out of character for you. Determine if work triggers these new behaviors from you.
You can become a product of your environment, but you don’t have to.
Take Accountability for the Work Life You Want to Have
You always have the ability to decide who you want to be and how you want to experience your work life:
Reflect on the type of work environment and work experience that is ideal for you and make changes to incorporate more of your desires into your daily work
Examine who you spend your time with at work and consider making changes if you have inadvertently fallen into a negative crowd
Confront the reality of whether or not you have become complacent with staying at a job that you otherwise should have left already. It may be time to make a job change. Read my post on How to Know It’s Time for a Job Change and start working toward a more positive future for yourself.
No one wants to be part of a problem. But you can always choose to create solutions.
You should not create a toxic work environment or be at the mercy of the one around you. Have a better work-life by choosing to take action to have one.
No one wants to work in a toxic environment. And, hopefully, no one wants to be responsible for creating the toxic environment that others work in.
We all have opportunities for improvement.
But if you ignore your bad habits and repetitively adopt poor behavior, you can become the cause of the discomfort, anxiety, and stress in others. You are the toxic environment at your job.
Reflect on who you are, how you behave, and what you want to be. Take time to improve what you can or to make the personal changes you need to be part of solutions and not part of the problem.
You do not have to be the toxicity in your work environment.
If you are looking for more ways to reexamine, recreate, or really improve your work life, read these other posts:
Whether it is after a hard week at work, a beautiful weekend, a vacation, or a leave of absence, sometimes you just don’t feel work ready.
It likely is a mindset thing. And, yes, mindset does matter.
When your thoughts tell you that work simply is not what you want to do, work can be the hardest thing to do.
Even if you know you have to do it.
Taking time to focus on your mindset can cure feelings of dread, anxiety, stress, or disdain for your job.
It can also improve your disposition as it relates to who you work for, who you work with, and what you do.
Left unattended, however, you may question if you should ever go back to work.
Before things go too far, or you settle into a pattern that you can’t get yourself out of, focus now on changing your work mindset for the better.
How Did Your Work Mindset Get SO Bad?
There are so many jokes, memes, and therapist offices filled with complaints about work. The idea of not liking your job or anything related to work is not new.
No matter the reason that work does not work for you, your mindset is always a big part of the equation.
Somewhere down the line, you have permitted a subtle opinion or occasional idea of your dislike of work to become a repetitive thought.
The repetition of thought has now become your belief.
And once you have developed a belief, you have essentially created a new truth or reality for yourself.
Your job is not where you want to be.
Seamlessly, your thoughts, emotions, experiences, and surroundings support your anti-work belief.
You have tons of data that validate the lack of alignment with your job.
When you get to this stage, it is hard to just believe something different.
Your belief is set and your mindset tells you that your job being bad is a reality; it’s just a fact.
Is It Normal to Not Want to Go to Work?
Yes and no. It is common that people do not want to go to work for a host of reasons that boil down to not enjoying the experience. And while the reasons may be diverse, the dissatisfied feeling becomes the thread that binds people together.
Work and dissatisfaction is deemed expected, or normal.
But just because complaining about work is common does not mean that it should be accepted as normal. And, therefore, you don’t have to accept it as normal to not want to go to work.
It is equally possible and probable to enjoy the work that you do, the company you work for, the person you report to, and your job overall.
The issue commonly is that individuals are exposed to others who do not enjoy their job and therefore normalize it when they are also facing a poor experience. The classic misery loves company phenomenon.
When you decide that not wanting to go to work is an experience you do not want to be normal for you, you can choose thoughts and actions that create an optimistic and productive work mindset.
With the mindset that your work experience can be better than the one you are currently experiencing, you can search for and create solutions to produce a better outcome.
How Do I Get a Better Mindset About Work?
Because every work experience is different for everyone, the best place to start to gain a better work mindset is by understanding your personal vision about work.
In the short term, you may have an opinion that I would be happy if this would just stop or if this person would just treat me better.
But going beyond your immediate pain point can render you a much better long-term resolution to your anti-work disposition.
Self-Assessment Can Redefine Your Work Mindset
Instead of focusing on your resistance to where you are, take time to learn more about where you truly want to be.
Even if you cannot change your current circumstances, self-assessment is a healthy means to gain clarity of your goals and feel more in control of your intended outcomes.
When you can envision and understand your goals, you are more likely to achieve them. And to have a positive mindset regarding the job that you prefer.
What do you want to gain from working?
How do you define success in a job?
What skills do you have that you would enjoy using regularly?
Are you motivated to work right now? And if not, why not?
The list of exploratory questions related to your work preferences and your work mindset is endless.
Changing your work mindset can be difficult when it seems like every day you walk into a headache. And when you take a much-needed break, it can be even harder to get into the mindset to even want to go to work .
Know that the power to change your work mindset always rests in your hands, even if it takes time to build the muscle.
Identify what you want to get out of work, reflect on what may be working for you with where you are today, and plan positively for your future.
Take care of your needs and relieve yourself of the expectation that anyone else will. As you work diligently on hitting the milestones leading to the work-life you prefer, your work mindset will improve and being positive will be much easier to do.
Do you have any special tips and tricks to improve your work mindset? Or maybe you have a unique situation that seems well beyond what a positive work mindset can cure. Leave your comments below so we can share ways to get in a better place today!
Are you in serious need of burnout recovery and at the same time looking for some serious motivation to move forward?
Burnout and motivation could appear to be the furthest things away from each other. But it is possible to transition from burnout to motivation and get yourself back on track.
Any time you put serious effort towards your goals or your dreams, you have a serious potential for burnout. Balance can get lost when you have tunnel vision on your objectives.
And when you feel like you have nothing left to give, motivation seems to take more energy than you have.
Take time to reassess your path forward from exactly where you are.
You can recover from your burnout, build your motivation, and regain your productivity towards your goals. But you may have to take it one step at a time.
How Did You Get Burned Out from a Goal You Actually Wanted?
It feels like every day another expert is sharing all the glory of working on your goals.
The best methods to create them, how to make them SMART, and all the improvement benefits to your life at the hands of productivity towards what you want.
You followed the proper process, selected the top priority, and put your whole heart and soul into your vision of achievement.
The issue is the very thing that motivated you to move is the same thing that has now forced you to stop.
Burnout does not mean that you no longer want your goal. However, burnout is when you allow your energy output toward your goal to exceed your energy input.
And be clear that this energy imbalance can be physical, emotional, or mental energy-related. It can even be all three.
Regardless of what part of you feels depleted, your tank has gone beyond empty.
When your normal and backup energy reserves fall short, you start to pull from other parts of you in likely unhealthy ways.
As a result, you become even more fatigued and have even less energy to move forward.
In recognition of your tank depletion and your lack of goal achievement, you now have no choice but to see and accept your burnout status.
So let’s take a look at where you can go from here to initiate your burnout recovery and revive your motivation:
This may be the hardest step.
Even when you know that you are in bad shape, something inside keeps you moving forward.
It is that same part of you that has moved you forward this whole time.
And it is that special spark that is the most magnificent piece of the human spirit. How can you give up on what you know you are being called to do?
But the strongest people make the hardest decision based on the best logic that they can derive.
Even if it is not what you feel like doing, surrendering may be the smartest decision to make.
Surrendering is stopping.
Quit thinking and planning.
Pause the momentum that is moving you forward.
Pull the emergency break.
Just by stopping you signal to your mind and body that you have listened and will tend to its needs.
Even if not fully relaxed, you permit an opening for ease to slip in, remove tension, decompress and begin the burnout recovery process.
#2 Take Inventory of Your Status
Burnout can be an overused word and an under-explained concept when describing your specific condition.
You can say that you are burned out and actually be physically fatigued.
Another symptom associated with burnout is severe mental fog or lack of clear thinking.
You can also be burned out through emotional exhaustion, where feelings like stress, anxiety, hopelessness, and irritability combine and short-circuit your system.
No matter what your version of burnout looks and feels like, you must define it for yourself.
And this can be difficult. Because you are in the middle of the total burnout phase and likely would rather move away from it than stop and look at it closer.
Burnout recovery starts with recognition and acknowledgment.
You cannot address a problem that you cannot identify.
And you cannot cure an ailment if you don’t know what it is.
Whether you write it down, say it aloud, or share it with a friend or confidant, it’s time to take a moment and state what exactly is wrong.
When you can identify the exact form of burnout that you are experiencing you will be in a better position to address burnout recovery well.
#3 Heal Your Burnout Wounds
The level of healing and burnout recovery will directly correspond with the level of breakdown you have experienced.
No matter the level or severity, whether perceived as big or small, you must heal.
Healing is filling your cup and replacing what you have exhausted in your energy tanks.
Take a period of mental rest
Rally resources for support
Exercise for mental clarity
Bathe as a form of relaxation
Take any action and as many actions that lead to your physical, mental and emotional replenishment.
With your base level healing in place and repeated as often as necessary, you can well prepare yourself for reigniting your motivation.
Do not take the position that this process should occur rapidly. This is a statement best served by quality and not speed.
Practice extreme self-awareness in observing your shift from burnout to an improved state of health and well-being. Before you undergo any additional pressures related to moving toward your goals be sure that you are in a state to withstand the journey.
#4 Reset Your Path
While you may be attached to your methods and your progression, you must abandon your past plan and set a new path.
This may be hard to imagine because it is your plan that you have been diligently following this whole time to reach your goals.
But it is this plan that led you down a path of burnout and the crushing reality of your need for burnout recovery.
In order to meet your goals, you must have two things: 1) a clear vision of what you want and 2) a clear plan to get there. Both your vision and your plan must include you.
Start to rebuild your plan with yourself in mind:
Is your goal realistic and achievable for you?
Do you need other support or resources?
Does your timeline give you adequate time to complete all intended steps?
Can you execute your plan while maintaining your mental, physical, and emotional health?
Now that you have considered these questions, you can reset your path toward your goal and know that your new plan is fully comprehensive.
Your new trajectory is to achieve your goal, avoid burnout, and to become better through the process of fulfilling your vision.
#5: Evaluate Your Readiness to Start Again
When you have a goal that you have a strong passion to complete, every moment in inaction can feel like an eternity.
But unless you are ready for the road ahead, moving forward too fast can only serve to set you back.
Evaluate all the tools in your toolbox meant to serve you on your journey. This includes your mental, physical and emotional well-being.
Review your plan again and ensure that you have what you need to execute it.
Be accountable to not only your finished goal but your journey to get there.
Motivation and productivity cannot be achieved with a broken spirit and incomplete plan.
#6 Get Motivated
You are present, and your goal is in hand, but you need one more component to get yourself to the finish line.
You must be motivated.
Sometimes the biggest casualty of your burnout is the breakdown of your spirit.
And how do you stand on the strength of what has been broken and put back together?
You can gain influence from others and use 101 tools outside of yourself. But the single most impactful lift to your spirit and renewal of your motivation comes from you.
You have to believe that you can achieve your goals.
You must have faith that you can recover and thrive after your burnout.
The vision you have created must be real to you.
How Do You Motivate Yourself ?
Motivation is built on your beliefs. You are motivated when you believe in yourself.
To build confidence in what you are capable of, you must see yourself first as capable.
Take the time to take inventory of yourself, your accomplishments, your skills, your vision, and your drive.
Why did you create your goal to begin with?
How did you get motivated to start on your path the first time?
What challenges have you already overcome?
What did you learn from past failures?
How did you manage to heal from your burnout?
What have you learned about yourself and your will to start again?
Why are you still pursuing this goal?
How will you feel when you achieve it?
You are the key factor that fuels your motivation. It is your drive that moved you forward before and even propelled you past your limits.
And while you want to move forward in better balance this time, you have living proof that you possess motivation, passion, momentum, and unbelievable drive at your core.
Believe in what you can do because of what you have done.
And realize that your past is only a part of your story.
You have serious motivation within you.
And at any moment on your journey when you need to be reminded, revisit these questions, proclaim your answers, and reclaim your position as being good enough and strong enough to move ahead.
Burnout can be the nemesis of motivation and drain you of your will to move forward.
Take the time to focus on yourself, engage in a burnout recovery plan, and surrender to the pause of your goal progression.
When you allow yourself to reboot and reset your objectives, you can create an even stronger plan toward your goals that keeps you healthy, whole, AND accomplished.
As you review the milestones that you have already achieved and continue to hit more of them, you will fuel the motivation needed to accomplish your vision with pride.
Did any recommendation stand out to you on burnout and motivation? If so, I would love to hear your input. Please share in the Comments section below.
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