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If You Hear This One Toxic Phrase At Work, It May Be Time To Quit You Job

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employees brainstorming during a meeting in an office

There's a specific toxic phrase being called out that is primarily used in work environments and employees are being warned to quit their jobs if they hear it being used.

In a TikTok video, Jennifer Brick, a content creator who makes videos about career advice, shared the one phrase that you shouldn't hear in the workplace, and if you do, it's a giant red flag.

She warned employees to quit if their coworkers and employers use one specific phrase.

"There is one phrase at work that is so toxic that if you hear it in a job interview, in a meeting, at a team event, you need to run as quickly as possible," Brick bluntly stated at the start of her video.

She explained that if managers or other co-workers are heard using the phrase, "We're a family," it usually means the exact opposite. In the comments section, many people were quick to agree and pointed out that the worst jobs they've ever had were ones where the "family" mentality played a huge role in how people did their jobs and interacted.



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"I can’t stand it. I have a family and it’s not the people I work with. Friends, acquaintances, workmates, sure. Family? Absolutely not," one TikTok user wrote, while another user added, "Someone at my old job referred to the office as our 'home away from home.' You can guess why I don’t work there anymore."

A third user chimed in, "I couldn’t agree more. The two most dysfunctional companies that I ever worked for used that term a lot," and a fourth user agreed, writing, "After over 36 years of professional work I can honestly say you are right! The most toxic workplace cultures are declared FAMILY. If you can RUN!"

Business leaders attempt to use this phrase to instill a family narrative, but it ends up coming across as manipulative.

It's wrong to refer to co-workers, business partners, and anything in the professional realm as "family," because that's simply not true. In the workplace, there are clear hierarchies and power dynamics, and by claiming that everyone is a family and "we all work together," can make it challenging for employees to address legitimate concerns about authority and accountability.



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It's important to keep work separate from your identity as it can become quite toxic and messy when the lines become blurred. Work shouldn't become your entire life and by adopting this mindset and using this toxic phrase, it can become challenging to figure out where you begin and work ends.

While there are clear positives to treating your co-workers like family, including building lasting and important relationships and creating a work environment that feels like a community, oftentimes, this "family" narrative doesn't end up actually meaning what business leaders claim it does.

if you hear this toxic phrase at work it may be time to quit your jobPhoto: Pressmaster / Canva Pro

According to Business Insider, journalists Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen wrote in their 2021 book, "Out of Office," the exact reason why this mentality shouldn't be encouraged.

"You already have a family, chosen or otherwise," they wrote. "And when a company uses that rhetoric, it is reframing a transactional relationship as an emotional one."

Now, just because you shouldn't refer to your co-workers as "family" doesn't mean that you can't still cultivate a bond with them, or engage in friendship. But at the end of the day, it's important to remember that a job is a professional environment and shouldn't be seen as anything but that.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.