How to Improve a Toxic Workplace - It starts with you!
Have you ever thought about how your own behavior is affecting how other people's behavior in your work environment? Or how your own behavior may be being reflected back at you?
If you're feeling highly stressed or burnt out, then it’s worth thinking about how your behavior may have changed or even that it's not what you ideally want it to be.
Let me explain. I know how it is because this has happened to me.
I was really stressed when my business wasn't doing well. My mother was in the early stages of dementia and I was just burnt out from working too hard, too much, for too long. And I realised, thanks to the help of others, that the way I was behaving, including my direct style of communication, was having a negative effect on everyone within the group.
I've observed the same effect with clients and with the many people I've interviewed over the years as a recruitment consultant. How you communicate with others has a direct effect on how people will communicate and behave towards you.
Think about the Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated.
You've probably even observed this in your own children when they bicker non-stop. This happens because they feed off of each other and neither one can find a way to change their behavior. It happens all the time.
So whether you want to improve your workplace environment, or any other relationships, professional or personal, I have some tips that could help you.
How to Improve a Toxic Workplace by Taking Care of Yourself First
Practice some good self-care. This is number one.
Good emotional self-care might simply be about taking some time out for yourself. You could try taking up meditation, going for walks, or getting fitter. Do things that will help you heal yourself. This is really important.
Sure, you could go on a wonderful five-star holiday somewhere. But when you come back will it still be the same? The answer will most probably be yes because you haven’t taken the time to truly heal yourself.
It’s about finding ways where you can do little things every day to take better care of yourself. Whether physical or mental.
#2 Seek Help from a Mentor
This one has really worked for me.
If you can get a hold of a good mentor or coach, you might find that could be really helpful. I used to stew over problems and my coach would come and ask me really good questions about decisions I'd made, or the ways I've reacted to situations that had come up.
But what if you haven’t got the access to a good mentor or a coach? Then check out my post called Mentors – My Ultimate Guide – And Why You Can’t Have Too Many.
If you don’t want a one-to-one coach or a mentor, there are many books, blogs, and podcasts that can support your learning. There's a huge number of people out there you can learn from.
Here’s a recent blog post I did of my favorites called Feed Your Soul With These Favourite Books and Podcasts. These are the ones that I keep going back to time and time again because they have helped me immensely.
#3 Take Responsibility
Lastly, my advice is to take responsibility for yourself and your own behavior.
Don't complain about your boss, coworkers, or other people in your group if you're not prepared to take responsibility for yourself.
It’s not about being critical or judgmental of yourself. Rather, it's about adopting a mindset that says ‘I am responsible for how I put myself out there’.
If you could do that, then you're on the first steps to actually overcoming this challenge.
Only you can control what you do within your organisation. And you’ll see that as you change your approach and how you communicate to people, they will change positively too.
So if you want to stop the effect that your stress and burnout is potentially having on others - because they're responding to your style of communication or your attitude- then here's a recap of my three tips .
- Practice good self-care. Look after yourself first!
- Get support from coaches, mentors, books, blogs or podcasts. Be open to learning and improving yourself.
- Take responsibility. Take responsibility for how you're behaving and the stress that you're putting yourself (and others) under.
I know it can be hard to see how taking responsibility will start the process, but trust me - it will.
Once you acknowledge that your behavior is affecting others and you begin to take care of yourself first, everything will start to fall into place and change for the better.
I'd love to hear from you. What do you do when you find yourself in a toxic environment at work?
Please leave a comment below!
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