Whether your boss doesn’t recognize the hard work you put in or you can’t stand your annoying co-worker in your department, you’ve probably already experienced a toxic work culture at least once in your career. 

Let’s face it, no work environment is ever truly perfect. While you may love your job and what you do for a living, the people around you and the circumstances can definitely affect how you feel about your job overall. Personally, there have been many moments where I found myself happy at the beginning of working at a new job, before finding out that it isn’t what I expected the longer I stayed. As time passed on, I found myself both physically and mentally exhausted. The blunt truth is that it’s like a relationship; the more time you spend, the more exposed you are to the ugly side of your co-workers. From working 9 to 5, 5 days a week, you’re bound to run into drama or just feel like you’re stuck at a dead-end job with no way to advance. 

While you may not have the power to control every problem that goes on in the office, there are a few ways to stay sane during the day (once you’re off the clock, feel free to grab that much-needed wine bottle!). 

Don’t participate in the gossip

That’s right, Gossip Girl. If you want to stay out of trouble, don’t engage in gossiping with co-workers. By now, you should know that not everything is true, and the last thing you want to do is to get into unnecessary drama with rumours. Leave the cliques back in high school; we all wanted to be Regina George, but in reality, it’s just not ideal. 

Set boundaries

Is the guy from IT constantly asking you out despite the numerous hints you’ve given on not being interested? Is your nosy neighbour still prying into your personal life? Make it known to others that you’re not interested in giving out details regarding your life outside of work. There’s nothing wrong with being a private person, so make sure others respect that. If you’re not the type to date co-workers, make it clear for other employees who have been a bit too flirty with you lately that it’s just not going to happen. 

Don’t take things too personally

A lesson that should be effective in our everyday lives. No one likes to be told off, but unfortunately, many of us experience it. While it’s hard to not get offended, try not to take things too personally. Criticism doesn’t have to be negative; turn it into a learning experience and grow from it! At the end of the day, work is work; don’t let it get to you. Everybody makes mistakes, and your mistakes don’t define you as a person. A personal tip that I like to enforce with myself is to let things go. The second I’m off the clock, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Don’t ever bring negativity from work back home. 

Be positive

It’s easier said than done, but do your best to have a positive attitude. Even if you’re not in the best mood, trying to have a positive mindset can actually boost your overall mood. Keeping an upbeat attitude may also influence your grouchy co-workers to be happier as well. Show some love, and you may get some in return!

Laugh it off

Your life may not be the perfect rom-com, but surely you can find the humour in some situations! Rather than looking at everything in a negative viewpoint, learn to laugh it off. Trading stories with another peer can even improve your mood, as it can be comforting to know that you’re not alone. 


Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Take a break

Everyone needs a break. Don’t push yourself to work continuously without taking breaks, or else you’ll wind up shutting down. Sitting at your desk all day doing work non-stop can be draining. Take a well-needed break every once in a while to cool your head and get refreshed before getting back into it. You deserve to rest!

Speak up

Whether your co-worker is out of line or you don’t agree with the way a project is being executed, don’t be afraid to speak up! You’re not a doormat; don’t let others constantly walk over you and have the upper hand. This doesn’t mean that you need to start conflict or be confrontational, but don’t be afraid to speak up and give in your two cents when appropriate. Whether it be a suggestion on a project or expressing your discomfort with a fellow employee, your voice matters if it’s affecting the work you do or company’s overall nature. 

Focus on yourself

The older you get, the more you realize that it’s best to just mind your own business. Do your own thing and try not to get involved in things you don’t have to, unless it’s necessary. At the end of the day, you’re just there to work; so do your job and focus on yourself. Don’t let anyone’s actions affect you and don’t meddle with other people. As harsh as it may seem, it’s usually every man for himself. Don’t make the mistake of being too buddy-buddy with your co-workers, as you never know whether they can turn on you. When it comes to work, it’s best to keep a distance. Your co-workers are NOT the same as your best friends from high school. 


As a last resort, you should never stay at a job that you’re unhappy with. It’s unhealthy and a waste of your time. Keep in mind that no job is perfect, and you’ll always come across people you don’t like in your company. However, if you’ve done everything you could to try and deal with the circumstances and you just can’t tolerate it anymore, it may be time for you to start a new chapter and find a new job that you can be comfortable in. 

Don’t drown in toxicity; continue thriving and hustling as you continue to work on yourself and your career!

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