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  • Writer's pictureTeena Marie

Can We Cancel Workplace Toxicity?

At last, the pandemic is over.... finally. No more sweaty masks, constant testing, the looming threat of losing a job if you don’t comply with getting vaccinated, the unknown of what exactly would happen to our bodies if we caught it, hospitalization, death, or no symptoms at all? The war between the vaccinated and the non-vaccinaters. I became a little OCD, or I should say my OCD got worse. I became a robot when it came to cleaning. I was living in fear, afraid of how far the government would take the shutdown and if the world was headed into an apocalypse. That led to worrying about my limited survival skills; I am terrible at growing food and my hands shake at the thought of holding a gun. Apparently, guns are in all apocalyptic movies. I watched my significant other gradually buy guns and different attachments like lights and lasers. What? The world was literally going crazy.

One positive thing that came from the “pandemy” is the reset that was needed. It was a great time to reflect on what truly made me happy. That one thing is not having work define me. I watched the workaholics tremble at the thought of losing their lifeline and having to shelter in place and fearing the idea they would have to be around only themselves for 24 hours a day or their significant other they secretly dreaded being around. Workaholics do not have an identity outside their job. I on the other hand, am comfortable being around myself, I am an introvert, but have extrovert tendencies. I do well outside my job. I enjoyed having the world in “Do Not Disturb” mode. When I want to be around people I can, but I do not mind spending time alone at home either. The only thing I did not like was not being able to travel easily.

But I say all that to say, who wants to go back to work? To all my work from home, hybrid people, why they calling us back? Get off my phone. I never had the opportunity to work from home, because I was deemed an essential worker, lol, but I get it. I would not want to go back, especially to a toxic or previously toxic environment.

Can we cancel workplace toxicity? That is literally scary to think about. As a society, as the world, we have been through a lot. The last thing we need is to go back to work and deal with a “Karen”. Because of the way I am feeling these days, I could say exactly what is on my mind, not give a care, and leave. I am not interested in working hard for a company that will not work hard for me. I am not interested in unstable executives changing their minds like the Chicago weather. I will start working on multiple streams of income.... because Life Is Short. 😊

So, for those of us who suffer from lack of entrepreneurial skills, what can we do to deal with a toxic workplace and destructive managers? Or why are jobs so toxic?

From personal experience on what I have observed, a lot of toxic environments stem from people being in positions that are not suited for them. Either they did not have enough training, zero training, their personality just doesn’t mesh well with the new responsibilities, or it’s a result of nepotism. Yep, I said it. You know good and well your cousin, auntie, friend or whoever has no business being in that position. No business at all! Sit down somewhere. Someone can be an outstanding nurse for example, but absolutely suck as a manager. So...20 something odd complaints and some serious complaints to the state later... is when upper management figures out maybe this person is not right for the job; after the hurricane has done its damage. That is super frustrating. Some just do not have the skills for the job either. I have seen management keep toxic people in positions because the person is threatening to make a complaint based on discrimination. That angers me because discrimination happens, but some use it as an excuse. It is not discrimination if you just suck.

Other factors that contribute to a toxic workplace are sometimes the company is so small that there is no HR department, so you are dealing with the executive who can basically do whatever they want at others expense. You are at the behest of their random thoughts that have petty intentions on how to make the company great again. So, you are subjected to their 9 P.M. emails with threatening language summoning everybody must come back to the office with a week’s notice. Nobody has time for that. So, how do you survive?

  1. Know your job description and know it well. Managers and messy co-workers have limited pull if you know what you are doing. Arm yourself with the companies' policies, so you know how to maneuver. At the end of the day, the company and everyone must follow the policy.

  2. Know your rights as a whistle-blower and what the grievance procedure is for filing a complaint.

  3. Mind your business. Do not get involved in office gossip and pettiness. Stay professional and do not tell all your business to everyone. Be cordial and nice but keep it short. I have seen people who run their mouth so much it’s like someone forgot to turn off the faucet. They talk so much they forget what they said and get caught up. Those people will be the first to say, “I never said that”.

  4. Stay honest and true to your values. If your profession has a license with an ethical code attached to it, as many do, you have every right to refuse to participate in something that will affect your license or the welfare of the client down the road. Be diplomatic about it, politely refuse that you can’t knowingly withhold information from a patient’s chart for example or ignore someone’s behavior based on these ethical principles. Outline them and put them in an email.

  5. Keep a paper trail. Email instead of having phone conversations and leaving voicemails. You would think people would act right in emails, but I have seen people act outside of their minds in emails, so you want to keep track of that. We have all been victims of angry typing. A lot of people forget as well, so it is nice to send a friendly reminder of what was said in the previous email. Plus, if nothing is documented, it will turn into a he-say, she-say battle. At that point, it’s lost.

  6. Find an ally and hold people accountable. Toxicity continues because people quit rather than stay and fight. But at the same time, toxicity beats you down to the point where you have no choice but to crawl out while you still have the strength. An ally, that one funny coworker can make a difference on how your day goes. Stand up for yourself and your rights and by keeping the best interests of the population you serve; people will have no choice but to do their job around you.

Working in a toxic workplace is a war zone. Some advice that my mother gave me is, “Do what you can do until you can do better.” If you are unable to leave that toxic job due to different circumstances, and if all else fails...PRAY. I personally believe that prayer works and if you are spiritual or religious or have a belief there is a GOD, you know GOD is on time!

(This isn’t an all-inclusive list of causes and solutions, but wanted to give some tidbits of info that might help someone)

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