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Tips on How to Handle a Toxic Office Environment

30 March 2022

Have you ever been in a toxic work environment? If so, the experience has likely left a lasting impression on you. Toxic work environments can be draining and emotionally taxing for employees, as well as detrimental to their mental health. There are many reasons why an office might become toxic - from poor management practices to low morale among the staff - but no matter what is causing it, there's always something that can be done. This article will explore important things every person should know about handling a toxic workplace situation.

How to Handle a Toxic Office Environment

If you're in a position where you can't leave your job, then you'll need to take some steps to protect yourself from the toxicity. Here are a few ideas:

Identify the Source of Toxicity

Identify the Source of Toxicity

A good first step when handling a toxic environment is figuring out where all of its problems stem from. This may require some research or brainstorming on your part, but you'll want to do as much digging as possible before taking any steps to address the situation. Once you've identified why the environment is toxic, it will make it easier for you to figure out what kind of action should be taken next - whether that's addressing the problems yourself or approaching someone else about it.

Document Everything - Emails, Conversations, etc.

Document everything. Record all interactions with the toxic coworker and any other incidents that occur in the office that make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy. This documentation will be helpful if you need to report the situation to your boss or HR department.

Communicate With Your Boss and Co-workers About the Situation

Communicate With Your Boss and Co-workers About the Situation

The first step is to communicate with your boss. Try to schedule a meeting and go in with a list of specific issues that are causing you stress. Be sure to express how the environment impacts your work performance and overall well-being. Again, speak to your boss privately. It's best not to air dirty laundry in public, and it may be that your boss is unaware of the office environment being toxic.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when communicating with your boss about a toxic office environment:

1. Be specific. Don't just say, "the office is toxic." Describe what specifically is making the environment difficult for you.

2. Avoid personal attacks. It's important to stay professional and objective when describing the situation.

3. Stay calm and composed. It's important to maintain a level head when discussing this type of situation, especially with your boss.

4. Offer solutions. If you have any ideas on improving the situation, share them with your boss.

If your boss doesn't seem to be doing anything about the issue, or if the situation gets worse after speaking to them, then it's time for a meeting with HR. Again, try to come prepared with evidence of the toxicity in the office (emails, comments overheard, etc.).

Talk to Your HR Department if the Situation Doesn't Improve

Talk to Your HR Department if the Situation Doesn't Improve

You should talk to your HR department to better understand your workplace's policies on toxic behavior. HR might help you by mediating between yourself and your coworkers and may be able to provide some solutions to the problem. However, it's also best to try and talk to your coworker first to see if the issue can be resolved without getting management involved.

If talking to HR doesn't seem to get you anywhere, or if you feel like your situation is becoming unsafe, you may need to take more drastic measures. This could include reaching out to a lawyer or seeking advice from an organization like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Keep a Positive Attitude, Even if you Don't Feel Like it

Maintaining a positive attitude in a toxic office environment can be tough, but it's important to stay upbeat and focused on your goals. Here are a few tips on how to maintain a positive attitude:

Don't take things personally – It can be difficult not to internalize hurtful comments or behavior, but try to remember that the person who is being toxic is likely dealing with their own issues and is not acting out intentionally towards you.
Set boundaries – If someone is making your life difficult, set clear boundaries and let them know when they are crossing the line. This will help to protect your mental well-being and peace of mind.
Remember that you cannot control what other people do or behave. All you can control is your reaction to them and their behavior. So try not to let the negativity of others affect your mood or outlook on life.
Make a point of being friendly and approachable to everyone in the office, even if they're not friendly to you. By doing this, you'll at least be seen as someone willing to put forth the effort to get along, which can go a long way in making things more pleasant for everyone.
Focus on the good things about your job and your life in general. No one is perfect, and there will always be things that annoy us about our jobs, bosses, coworkers, and life in general. But it's important not to let those little annoyances take away from all the great things we have in our lives.

Talk to a Therapist or Counselor if Needed

Talk to a Therapist or Counselor if Needed

It can be very helpful to talk to a therapist or counselor about handling a toxic workplace. They can provide support and guidance and help you develop strategies for dealing with the stress and anxiety that often comes with this type of situation. Some things you may want to discuss with your therapist or counselor include:

How to set boundaries with regards to your work life and personal life
How to deal with negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and resentment
How to maintain your dignity and self-respect in a hostile environment
How to keep yourself healthy both physically and mentally

Reach out to Friends and Family for Support

Reaching out to friends and family for support can be essential in handling a toxic workplace. Having a support system that understands what you're going through and can offer words of encouragement or practical advice can make all the difference. Talking to someone who has been through a similar experience can also be very helpful.

When reaching out to friends and family, it's important to be clear about what kind of support you need. Sometimes people don't know how to help or may inadvertently make things worse by giving unwanted advice or taking control of the situation. It's okay to ask for specific things, such as someone who can listen without judgment, someone who can provide a shoulder to cry on, or someone who can offer practical solutions.

It's also important to remember that you are not alone. Many people have been in toxic workplaces, and many people have found ways to cope and survive. You can too. Lean on your support system, take care of yourself, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You got this!

Don't Take the Toxicity Personally - It's Not About You

Don't Take the Toxicity Personally - It's Not About You

The first step is to remember that you're not the problem. Toxic work environments are created by dysfunctional people who have problems that have nothing to do with you. If you take the toxicity personally, it will only upset you and make the situation worse.

In order to protect yourself from the negative energy of a toxic workplace, try to focus on your work and don't pay too much attention to what others are saying or doing. Also, keep in mind that you can't change other people; only they can change themselves.

Join a Support Group

Join a support group or online forum specifically for people dealing with workplace stress. This can be a great way to connect with others who understand what you're going through and share tips for coping.

Distance Yourself From the Toxic person(s)

Distance Yourself From the Toxic person(s)

Distance yourself from the toxic person. If that is not possible, limit the amount of time you spend in their presence. Toxic people can have a negative effect on your physical and emotional health, so it's important to take steps to protect yourself.

When you're around someone who is always negative, it's hard to stay positive yourself. You may find yourself feeling drained or stressed after being around them. It's important to establish healthy boundaries and protect yourself from their negativity.

If you can't distance yourself from the person, try to limit the amount of time you spend in their presence. Spend more time with positive people who make you feel good instead. Let go of any guilt you may feel about not wanting to be around.

Practice Self-care

It can be difficult to manage a toxic work environment, but it's important to take care of yourself in order to maintain your mental and emotional health. Here are a few tips for practicing self-care:

Make time for yourself every day, even if it's just 10 or 15 minutes. Use this time to do something that brings you joy, like reading, taking a walk, or listening to your favorite music.
Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. This will help give you the energy you need to deal with stressors at work.
Get regular exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help improve your mood and relieve stress.
Take breaks when necessary. If you feel like you're about to blow up, take a few deep breaths and excuse yourself from the situation.
Avoid thinking about work when you're not at work. It can be tough to completely shut off your brain from work, but try to make a conscious effort not to dwell on things stressing you out when you're not at the office.

Practice how to Confront

Practice how to Confront

It can be difficult to know when to confront a toxic situation at work. Often, we tip-toe around the issue, telling ourselves that it will get better and that confrontation will only make things worse. However, if you've reached your breaking point and the toxicity impacts your physical or emotional health, it's time to take action.

Below are a few things to keep in mind:

Before confronting the person or situation head-on, take some time for yourself to practice how you'll deliver the message.
Make sure that you are in a good place mentally and emotionally before confronting the person or situation.
Keep in mind that tensions are high, and this might be a highly emotional situation for both you and the other person involved.
Stay calm and firm in your delivery; avoid raising your voice or becoming defensive.
Choose your words carefully and do not attack or blame the person or persons involved.
Think about the best time and place to approach your coworker. Pick a time when you can have privacy and won't be interrupted.
Reiterate how their behavior affects your work, and ask if you can come up with a solution together.

Leave Your Job or Change Departments

Leaving your job is a big decision, and it's not always the best option. If you're in a good position financially and you have a strong network, then it might be worth considering. However, if you're in an uncertain job market or don't have another job lined up, it might be wiser to stay where you are and try to change departments. Sometimes a change in scenery can make all the difference.


A toxic office environment is not something that should be taken lightly. It can often lead to decreased productivity, increased stress levels, and even mental health issues for employees who are subjected to it regularly. The moment you realize that your workplace has become toxic should be when you begin to take action. In most cases, this should start by having an honest conversation with your manager to try to come up with ways to improve the situation.

Seeking counsel from trusted acquaintances is another helpful step, whether you’re speaking to a therapist or a support group. Again, remember that most offices have HR policies for conflict resolution, so use the department as a resource. But most importantly, find ways to manage the impact of the toxicity to keep it from affecting your physical and mental wellbeing. If none of that works, we hope any of our other solutions listed above can help make your work a little more pleasurable, if not a lot less toxic.