Seven Steps for Surviving (and Maybe Thriving) in a Tough Workplace

manOkay, you’re struggling, contemplating things that will land you in jail, wishing you could be anywhere but around your caustic, obnoxious, and maybe bullying boss or colleague, and yet, you stay.

Why do you stay? Most reasons people stay in such environments are economic but also your identity-who are you without work, convenience-family-it’s hard to imagine leaving a city where you have deep roots, and stubbornness-you plan to outlive and out-advance your hell-of-a situation. So, you stay, and stay and stay even as you pay a huge price. Here are some things to do to help you manage your situation.

One, consciously commit to work so you some semblance of control over your environment. You’re not a patsy or a victim even if you are staying. Uncover your reasons for staying and then plan your next moves. One person I know updated her letter of resignation every two weeks for 3 years until she was ready to move on. Her departure was clean and balanced and came from power not defeat.

Two, What are you grateful for? What about colleagues, friends, training, even ‘getting tough’ and learning to be assertive are fodder for gratitude. Create a list of things you value and appreciate at work.

Three, uncover the places where you and your boss are aligned. Perhaps the overarching goals of the organization to turn a profit, streamline systems, or improve sales and marketing strategies? By doing so you can reduce your anger and stress and discuss the issues you have in common.

Four, work when you’re at work. Show yourself and your colleagues that you’re an asset to the organization. Avoid stonewalling (resisting improvements and failing to cooperate with colleagues), don’t gossip, and stop whining about your boss and the conditions in the office.

Five, give up revenge. It’s never satisfying. One true story I know is about a gentleman who lost his thumb in a work accident. He sued his employer and won a huge settlement. He threw the check on the table and asked to trade his check for a thumb. No one wanted to trade! Revenge doesn’t fix the loss. This is a mindset issue.

Six, remind yourself that conflict is a natural part of life and not all conflict is disastrous. Take an assertiveness training class, read some books on negotiation, and management (insert link to my site) to help you improve your conflict management skills. You’ll both use these skills and take them with you.

Seven, hire a confidence conflict coach. Coaches who specialize in handling confidence and conflict issues can support you to manage, improve, and transcend your circumstances.

  • Wanda

    I know a number of people who hang on in a job they hate because they are too scared to take the plunge and move. Its daunting for them to make the break so they stay on and become embittered and depressed to the stage they hate going to work. I have sent this blog post on to a couple of friends in the hope it might help them make the break or at least help them cope better.