Workplace toxicity is triggered by the thoughtless actions of colleagues. The actions are usually intentional and meant to target certain people to ensure that they end up feeling unwelcome and left out. Sometimes, this incivility gets completely out of hand and makes the victim feel denigrated or belittled.
Since you are in your workplace for at least 8 hours a day, this can affect your psychological and physical wellbeing.
How can you tell if you are a victim of workplace toxicity or not?
Here are a few signs that will help you understand if you are on the receiving end of incivility in the workplace-
1. No one talks to you
This is an early sign. You might notice people talking among themselves but they are going out of their way to avoid talking to you. They will usually avoid making eye contact with you even when you discuss work-related matters with them.
2. Sexual harassment
8 out of 10 working women face sexual abuse at the workplace. The numbers say it all.
3. Rumours about you
Rumours can portray you in poor light. People will whisper or gossip about it and spread malicious false news about you. You might even see them sniggering at you.
4. Verbal toxicity
The next level of toxicity is verbal abuse. Your co-workers or your boss may badmouth you, abuse you or yell at you.
5. You are not getting recognition
You may be toiling away indefatigably, yet the long-overdue promotion just isn’t materialising. You are passed over when it comes to employee-of-the-month awards. Others might be taking or getting the credits for your hard work.
6. The blame game
If something goes wrong with a project, you are the usual scapegoat. Everyone makes you take the blame for every failure, and you have to face the music with the boss even though it was the team that underperformed.
7. Working overtime
We all have to work overtime from time to time. But if this becomes a habit then it could be a sign of workplace toxicity. Your employers are exploiting you if they consistently make you stay back and work on assignments or if you have to work even when you are on vacation.
How does workplace toxicity affect us?
Humans are social creatures, and we long to belong in a group. This is an instinct that we are born with, because it helps in our survival. Since the beginning of time, the threat of expulsion from a social group was used as a tool to make humans adhere to social guidelines. Expulsion spelt death since humans back then were not strong enough to survive on their own. And that innate fear and instinct are still strong in us. That is why we feel devastated when we are excluded or made to feel unwanted. If workplace isolation continues for long, you are sure to slip into depression.
Here are a few other things that could happen to you–
- Loss of sleep
When you do not sleep well, you fall sick- physically and psychologically. Your pressure shoots up and your metabolism slows down. You begin to gain weight and develop cardiovascular problems.
Lack of sleep also slows your brain down. It deprives you of your ability to deal with problems that make workplace harassment seem even more insurmountable.
- Negative rumination
Negative rumination is a strange but deadly psychological function of your body. It makes you preoccupied or obsessed with brooding over the terrible things that are happening with you. You will not be able to let them go and move on. This creates a feeling of being trapped.
How can you deal with workplace toxicity?
Sometimes the best and most obvious way to deal with toxicity at the office is simply to change jobs. There is nothing to be gained from continuing. If you don’t want to start afresh, ask yourself, which is more important- your health and sanity or success (which may be dubious if you are not getting positive feedback anyway).
You could also try and detach yourself from your workplace. Do all that you have to do at the office, but once you step outside its bounds, wipe your head clean of all work and office thoughts. Keep yourself busy with activities that you like.
Exercise and yoga can help you cope with workplace abuse. They can also alleviate insomnia, stress and depression by initiating the release of endorphins (happy hormones).
Workplace toxicity is a menace and it can ruin a person’s health. Learn to identify the signs and take the right steps to deal with them.