In the modern day world, everyone has at least a vague idea of the main ingredients of a toxic workplace: the overwhelming pace and the stress of the job in general, abusive and/or discriminating behaviour from managers and co-workers, that annoying colleague who takes the credit for YOUR hard work and basks in the boss’ favour… Whether it’s just that one colleague who pushes all the wrong buttons or an ugly blend of everything within those walls you have to stare at every single day, if it’s enough to make you burst into tears or throw every “pan and pot” to the wall the very minute you arrive back home, it’s safe to say that something is not right.
After the revelation has hit you, it’s undoubtedly necessary to ask yourself: Is this job really worth all the misery? If you happen to be in a profession that isn’t your true passion, then your answer should be obvious. If, on the other hand, you happen to work in a field that you’re certain you were born into, you need to ask yourself: is your current workplace the one and only place for you to be able to achieve the goals you have set for your career?
To whichever conclusion your answers brought you, it is essential for the sake of your own future and wellbeing to try to fix the things that are broken. Even if you’ve decided to embark on a whole new career path or just to transfer somewhere else, you shouldn’t hand in your notice before you’ve taken the following steps:
STEP 1: ASK YOURSELF…
1) Is it me or is it them?
It’s only natural for us humans to get defensive and blame others for our pain. If it hasn’t crossed your mind yet, think why you seem to be the only one falling to pieces at the workplace? Why are you the only one who seems to have to cope with sleeplessness and anxiety? As depressing as it may be, let your mind wander to the past and think of a few situations at work that made you feel exceptionally upset. Try to be as objective as possible about everything that was said and done during those moments and analyse it all. This should help you get rid of any doubts.
2) Is there anything I can do to fix things?
If you’ve suddenly realized that you might be partially at fault about some of the problems at work, you should try to figure out a way to fix them. If the atmosphere is tense because of a conflict between you and one of your colleagues, try to talk things through over a cup of coffee one day after work. It’s better to try to come to an understanding with somebody in a neutral environment where you both can relax and be open. The same method applies if you’re absolutely certain that you are not to be blamed of anything, and you feel a need to discuss about the situation with your manager. Be sincere when opening up about your thoughts and feelings but don’t let the negative side take over – there is no need to take down your own case by making yourself look like the office b****.
3) Can you see any improvements?
After you’ve brought your thoughts and feelings to the right people’s attention, it’s time to take the role of the observer. Don’t expect anything to change over a night or two. But don’t wait forever either. Trust your instincts on this. If you feel that you’ve given it enough time but nothing has changed for better OR everything has just gone worse, take a deep breath, address your manager about the matter again (if you want to) and say to yourself: enough is enough.
STEP 2: ACT
1) Come up with a plan.
As much as we’d like to think that money isn’t the most important thing in our lives, we can’t really live without it. It pays our bills and fills our fridge, end of story. That’s why it’s important to start the search for a new employer. Especially if your savings aren’t enough to cover your expenses while you’re taking the time off to get yourself ready to embark on that new career path. So ignore the doubts and focus on polishing that CV of yours and dusting that list of contacts! The busier you keep yourself, the less time you have for being miserable.
2) Tackle the second thoughts.
The likelihood of your manager showering you with tempting but empty promises on the day you hand in your notice is not hard to guess. Just as likely is the fact that those last few weeks at work are going to consist of more good days than all the years of your work history put together. Whether it’s the “pink goggles syndrome” or the sudden acknowledgment of the freedom that’s waiting ahead, you will find yourself relapsing back to Step 1 but keep in mind: insisting that things are not what they are doesn’t make them change. We constantly try to deny reality because it often contains unpleasant things that make us afraid. Facing the reality is all about breaking out of the habit of thinking according to concepts and beliefs the past and society have taught us. Therefore, taking such action as leaving your job requires a certain tolerance of uncertainty. Yeah, it’s scary as – well, you know – but think about it this way: if there is ever going to be a movie about you, how do you want this particular moment of your life to look on the big screen? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
3) Walk away and don’t look back.
There are no guarantees in life. For some reason we struggle to accept this and try to come up with our own ideas of what’s going to happen in the future. In a way, we attempt to write the story of our lives and then get upset when some unknown power goes and changes the storyboards. When such a tragedy occurs, we have only three options. We can either throw our hands in the air, curse everything between the stars and the bottom of the sea or we can take whatever is left of our lives and walk away with it. What will you do?