7 Signs You're In A Toxic Relationship With Your Job

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Woman in plaid shirt at desk looks depressed about work

Are you currently working in a toxic workplace? Raise your hand if you’ve got someone in your workplace that has toxic energy?

It's not uncommon. According to a 2019 workplace survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), one in five people who left their jobs cited toxic culture as the reason they departed. 

We’ve probably all been there — having to work with a Negative Nellie or a Hateful Harold type of person whose lack of joie de vivre brings others down.

The tricky part is realizing how their toxic energy is having a negative impact on you, your self-esteem, your self-worth, and your physical well-being.

It's time to reflect on your workplace and see if it might be time for a change.

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Here are 7 signs you're in a toxic workplace and it's affecting your well-being.

1. There's poor communication.

There's either a lack of communication or the communication you’re receiving lacks clarity and is full of mixed messages.

Or worse, you're exposed to passive-aggressive communication that pushes all of your bad-vibe buttons.

2. Co-workers show exclusive behaviors, or the 'Us vs. Them' mentality.

Remember being in high school and the cliques you had to endure? This can be a huge trigger for someone.

The feeling of not belonging, being overlooked, or being talked about behind your back can create a whole host of emotional trauma.

3. There's bad leadership.

When leaders focus on profits over people, they're not truly valuing employees' contributions and worth. While profits are important, people make the wheels turn in any organization.

If you’ve got a boss that cares little about your success as part of the overall team, then you’ve got a problem. 

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4. There are unmotivated teams.

"That’s not in my job description."

When you’ve got folks on your team who are only interested in drawing inside the lines or not willing to go the extra mile, it’s usually because they’re burned out and have had enough. They’ve got nothing left to give.

But it can also be from a lack of passion, purpose, or internal drive. Either way, their lack of motivation is a sign of a much larger organizational issue of disenfranchisement, general distrust, or poor leadership — take your pick.

5. There's a lack of balance throughout the organization.

The saying "the fish rots from the head down" is true.

If you’ve got a senior management team that lacks work-life balance, who are working 20 hours a day and throughout the weekend, you typically see the rest of the organization following that example.

No one wants to disappoint the boss by being unresponsive, right? They’ll tell you, "It’s just the culture here." But work culture doesn’t have to be toxic or all-in to be productive, cool, and enjoyable.

6. You feel overworked and underappreciated.

Everyone needs a "Nice job!" or "Excellent work!" from time to time. As humans, we thrive on feedback on how to move through the world in a good way.

But if you’re only getting negative feedback or no feedback on the job, it often creates an unconscious drive to work harder to prove yourself to get the feedback you’re seeking.

This can quickly turn into a bad habit of overworking and feeling under-appreciated.

7. Burnout is the norm.

In today’s frenetic world, we are constantly being told to push harder, and do more with less.

The pandemic has only exacerbated this problem with The Great Resignation as millions of people realized that there actually is another way to work and earn a living without killing themselves.

Those left behind are doing twice as much as before with little gain or recognition. All of which wears you down mentally, emotionally, and physically, eventually leading you into a brick wall when you simply run out of steam.

If any of these have been your experience at work, it’s important that you start to notice the impact your toxic workplace has on your mind, heart, and well-being.

The long-term ramifications can be stressful and debilitating if left unchecked.

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If you're in a toxic workplace, there are six common negative effects that can drag you all the way down into the pit of despair.

1. Self-doubt

All of the toxic behaviors you’ve been tolerating at work are eating away your sense of self-confidence.

You doubt your decisions, don't trust yourself and your abilities, and second-guess your choices.

2. Low self-esteem and self-worth

Once your self-doubt gets triggered, you start constantly questioning yourself. This erodes your sense of self-worth and self-esteem as the doubts become bigger and start to take on a life of their own.

You ask yourself, "Who am I to do XYZ?"

"Why should anyone listen to me?" 

"I don’t know if I really deserve this." 

Such doubts lead to a loss of self-belief or not asking for the raise or promotion you've earned.

3. Imposter Syndrome

These negative thoughts can grow and expand into a full-blown case of Imposter Syndrome.

This is the feeling that you don’t deserve your job, your success, your accolades, despite all of your accomplishments at work, all of which holds you back from taking risks or stepping up your game for fear of failure.

4. Exhaustion

As you spiral down the rabbit hole of self-doubt, you find yourself trying harder and harder to prove yourself, your value, or your worth to your organization.

This leads to a lack of balance, overworking, and feeling overly criticized, defensive, and fearful for your job. It's exhausting.

5. Burnout

The constant doing, striving, and overworking is very depleting, robbing you of your creativity, your vitality, and your motivation.

This leaves you with a fuzzy brain, lack of energy, drive or clarity.

6. Health challenges

This increases your stress and lowers the capacity of your immune system, which can quickly manifest as serious health challenges such as adrenal fatigue, chronic stress, IBS, migraines, high blood pressure and so much more.

If you’re noticing any of these signs or symptoms, then it’s important to take a pause. Ask yourself, what’s really important to you? What’s the price you’re willing to pay for success?

What’s the "why" behind your work? Take some time to evaluate what changes might just be needed so you can find greater balance, peace of mind, and well-being in your day-to-day life.

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Michele Molitor, C-Hyp, is a certified coach and hypnotherapist and co-author of “Breakthrough Healing.” For 20 years, she has worked with talented, professional women and men, helping them overcome imposter syndrome and reclaim their confidence to create a thriving career and life. Connect with her directly to help eliminate your anxiety and limiting self-beliefs from your mindset once and for all.

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