How to stay motivated in a toxic work environment

Prioritize the positive, seek escape routes, rely on the “mirror effect” and maintain self-confidence are the keys that experts advise to survive a suffocating environment

A lower performance , feeling alienated and noticing heaviness of body and apathy every morning before work are signs that indicate that we are in a place where we really feel obligated to be and where we do not have the ability to choose how to do our I work, according to José Miguel Sánchez, psychologist, manager coach, motivational speaker and author of «The experience of resetting yourself» or «Powerful as a child». When we feel this way, the time will have come, as advised, to make decisions, because staying in a toxic or harmful environment like that without doing anything to change it will end up damaging our health, both physical and psychological.

Do you feel betrayed at work?

Sometimes it is difficult to identify the focus of the conflict or what makes us feel bad, but other times it is possible to focus it clearly on a third party, or a boss or a partner (or even a subordinate) that complicates our work every day. «To identify them we must be aware of the emotions that we cause when we work with them. Thus, we should maintain a prudential distance (or even move away) from someone who generates sadness , anger , anger , anger , restlessness , apathy or anguish when we are at his side, ”he says.

Two toxic profiles

But are there really “toxic partners” ? The expert identifies a common note in people who could receive that qualification: they appear as victims before us. «These people blame everything that happens to others. They are never responsible for what goes wrong and ensure that there are always others who lead them to do things in a way that is not appropriate, ”explains the author of“ The experience of resetting, ”which ensures that these people who live in a continuous complaint manages to make an environment “toxic” and being by its side ends up becoming a kind of “life imprisonment.”

They usually have a person to suffer in the spotlight

What is an organizational psychopath?

It is a profile that can be given in a company and that is characterized by using any means at its disposal to make life impossible for the person they decide in a company. Normally, as José Miguel Sánchez clarifies, he is usually someone with power, who exercises it explicitly with those who do not follow him or with those who disagree with him (or her). In extreme cases you can practice workplace harassment as a weapon to generate suffering and have that person leave the company.

In “The experience of resetting” the expert refers to a study in which they identified that one in five CEOs in North American companies shared similar attributes to those observed in psychopaths. “They tend to be seductive , manipulative , cold , impostor and liars , who are constantly looking for adulterers and who show little or no ethics in the actions they carry out,” defines the manager coach.

Paradoxically, victimist employees and organizational psychopaths share a characteristic: they are governed by the “locus of external control” , that is, they will always blame others for what happens to them and it will always be another person or entity responsible for things not to come out or don’t do as they wish. “For this reason, both victimist employees and organizational psychopaths end up being toxic to the rest,” reveals Sánchez.

Once both profiles (victimizers and organizational psychopaths) have been identified, how should we act with them? The expert assures that with the victimists what works best is not to reinforce their complaints, nor to keep them in time and, of course, not to feed them. “It is best to ignore these people,” he proposes.

As for the organizational psychopaths, the ideal would be to spend as little time as possible with them. If that is not possible and leaving the company is not an option, it usually works, as recommended by the coach, feed his ego and not confront him. “Still we must be aware that living with a person like the one I describe in the work environment has a high cost and that, at some point, we must assess whether it is worth paying,” he argues.

What do I do if they boycott me at a meeting?

  • Don’t take the boycott as personal.
  • Distinguish between what is work and what you are, it is likely that the boycott is aimed at the responsibility you hold and not towards your person
  • Be assertive Tell the other person what you think of the situation by describing the facts, without going into conflict.
  • If the above does not work, express your feeling about how the situation that is being created is affecting you and how it is far from the theme of the meeting.
  • If you must enter into direct conflict, build, do not destroy. It seeks to reach a satisfactory solution for both parties.
  • If all of the above does not work, you must decide if you have the obligation to continue in that employment situation.

Ideas to stay motivated

One of the expert’s advice is to accept that this position has a series of conditions that if you could change, but as it is not possible, you have no choice but to prioritize the positive it has. «We must focus on what you do like about the work you do, from the relationship with your colleagues or with clients or with users, to what you are learning about yourself or about the task you perform …», he says .

In addition, it is important to have escape routes that allow you to disconnect after the workday. «Playing sports, sharing moments with family or friends or having a hobby are activities that help you to live from a more positive side a work environment that can be suffocating«, reveals the author of «Powerful as a child».

Relying on the “mirror” effect can be a useful resource. As the expert explains when we generate and connect with positive emotions, others detect them and feel attracted to them and can even try to imitate them. Therefore, if we try to work from positive emotions that do us good, performance will increase because we will be doing our best and it will be easier for others to decide, consciously or unconsciously, to imitate our behavior.

Finally, it recommends maintaining security and self-confidence , regardless of the environment in which you are. “Believe in yourself. The motivation is born from within and we must manage from our ‘locus of internal control’ to focus on ourselves and better isolate ourselves from the environment, ”he clarifies.

by Abdullah Sam
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