top of page

How to survive when you're drowning in a toxic work environment.


“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too can become great.” – Mark Twain

Working in a toxic environment can impact your entire life. It's all consuming and has a way of trampling on your self worth.

A toxic work relationship is any situation where a person or group is negatively affecting your ability to perform your job effectively, whether it's due to their behaviour or the environment they create around them. This could include anything from being verbally abusive towards you on a regular basis, refusing to provide feedback when asked for it, acting unprofessionally in front of clients/customers or even being physically aggressive towards others in the office space--the list goes on!

For me it was an individual who used their authority to undermine me, block me from getting the support that I needed to do my job, and using this to make my performance look bad in front of senior leaders.

The Consequences of Toxic Work Relationships

The consequences of toxic work relationships are far-reaching and can affect your mental health, physical health, and productivity.

  • Mental Health: Toxic work relationships can lead to anxiety and depression. You may feel like you're not good enough at your job or that others don't appreciate you. This can lead to low self-esteem which in turn leads to negative thinking patterns like "I'm not good enough" or "I'll never succeed." These thoughts can spiral into a full-blown depression where all you think about is how bad things are and why they won't get better--or even worse--you feel like giving up entirely!

  • Physical Health: Stress has been linked with many physical ailments. When I ended up in A&E due to excessive headaches and other symptoms, I knew it was a sure sign that I had to escape the toxic work environment I was in.

Identifying Toxic Work Relationships

Identifying toxic work relationships can be tricky, but there are some signs to look for. If you find that your boss is always making excuses for their behaviour and never taking responsibility for mistakes, there's a good chance they're a toxic boss. If your coworkers are constantly gossiping about each other or making fun of people who aren't present, then it's likely that toxic attitudes have taken root in your office culture.

If you've noticed patterns like these among several different employees over time, it may be time to start looking at yourself and asking if there are ways in which you could improve your own behaviour so as not to contribute further toward creating an unhealthy environment at work (or anywhere else).

Managing Toxic Work Relationships

  • Establishing boundaries.

  • Developing communication skills.

  • Seeking support.

Preventing Toxic Work Relationships

To prevent toxic work relationships, you can create a supportive work environment and promote healthy relationships. The most important thing is to avoid burnout by taking care of yourself.

Dealing with Burnout

Burnout is a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion that can occur when you're working in an environment that's toxic. It can be caused by stress or long hours, but it also happens when you feel like your work isn't fulfilling its purpose anymore.

One way to avoid burnout is by taking time off from work (or at least switching tasks). If your job involves a lot of repetitive tasks or dealing with difficult people all day long, try switching things up and doing something else for a while--even if it's just for an hour! You'll be surprised how much better you feel after spending some time away from the office.

Another way to deal with burnout is by seeking help from professionals who specialise in these kinds of issues: counsellors; doctors specialising in mental health issues. When I was dealing with this I found myself a career coach - as an impartial professional, she was able to help me uncover many different directions and come to the right path for me to get out of this situation. I ended up walking away from the team on my own terms, for various reasons - this really was the best solution for me.

Tips for Avoiding Burnout

Avoiding burnout is all about creating a work-life balance. You need to set boundaries, take breaks, and focus on your health outside of work.

Here are some tips for avoiding toxic work relationships and burnout:

  • Create a schedule that allows you time for relaxation and exercise. This can be as simple as taking 15 minutes each day after lunch or at the end of every week to do something fun with friends or family members who are important in your life. Try going out for coffee with coworkers who aren't toxic, or doing something active like walking around the block together during break time at work!

  • Set boundaries around how much time you spend working on projects outside of normal business hours (e-mailing late into the evening). Most people have families they want to spend time with; if someone is constantly asking questions via email after 5pm then this might not be a healthy relationship!

Seeking Professional Help

If you're dealing with a toxic work relationship and burnout, it's important to seek professional help.

  • Talk to your doctor or therapist about what's going on in your life. They may be able to offer advice or recommend someone who can help.

  • Contact HR at your company and ask for their support in dealing with the situation. Depending on how big or small the company is, they may be able to offer resources and advice as well as connect you with other people who have experienced similar situations before so that they can share their stories with you (and vice versa).

  • Look into finding an outside source of support - this was a huge help to me.


“I will not allow anyone to walk in my mind with dirty feet.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Toxic work relationships and burnout can be dangerous to your physical and mental health. It's important to recognise these issues as early as possible and address them before they snowball into a bigger problem.

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or have concerns about your own situation, talk with someone who can help--whether that's a friend or family member, a mental health professional (such as a therapist), or even someone at work who might be able to offer advice on how best to proceed with addressing whatever issue has arisen between you and another employee.

For individual mentorship or support managing distributed teams please visit my website.

44 views0 comments


bottom of page