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What Is The Powerful Truth About Making Toxic Friends at Work?

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had a job that either kept us so busy that we didn’t know how to keep up or we just felt like we couldn’t handle being there one more minute, let alone one more day. So, how do we cope? Most of us would say by complaining, right? The Cut ran an article on April 22, 2019 discussing how complaining turns co-workers into friends.

I think most of us can relate to this since we’ve had at least one job in our careers that we didn’t love or wasn’t the right fit. Let’s take a look at why this is important and how it’s also a sign of something much bigger.

Forming Friendships in the Workplace

Forming bonds is healthy and a not only a necessary part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, but it can also become a coping a mechanism. When we are carefully forming those bonds around those that we work with and getting to know each other, what we are really doing is evaluating each other and our values to see if we trust each other enough to share those complaints. Once we do, then it becomes a close friendship because there is a deep level of trust.

Complaining has been said to be a good way to develop friendships in the workplace. Using work-related complaints to acquire those friendships also can feel less risky than discussing personal topics to get to know our fellow co-workers.

However, what don’t we know about forming friendships in the workplace? Is there more than what meets the eye?

Yes.

Complaining spreads like wildfire and can infect teams and a workplace. It can keep morale down and keep even the best employees from being productive.

According to the Harvard Business Journal, corporate culture is a powerful driver of human thought and behavior. It tells us what is revered and profane, what is right and wrong, good and bad. Corporate culture is what keeps us in line and ensures that we say, think, and do the right thing. “Right” is defined by our tribe, which is oftentimes our organizations. However, what happens when our tribe- and our organization are toxic?

Learning to Recognize A Toxic Work Culture  

The problem with getting to know someone in this way- by complaining- is that we are not fully getting to know them. So, how do we know if someone is a toxic employee?

Start by looking for the “dark triad”. Those with the tendency to exhibit one set of specific traits, which are known as the dark triad, oftentimes tend to be toxic employees or leaders.

  • Narcissism is the first one within this triad. It is defined as having an extreme interest or admiration in one’s self. Narcissistic people have trouble connecting to organizational values and accepting a team-focused mindset because they are absorbed solely on their own needs and ambitions.
  • Machiavellianism is the second one. This is the megalomaniac and ethically ambiguous mindset who typically keep valuable information to themselves that could benefit others in the organization, pit different groups against each other, and make a group of friends while excluding others from their social circle.
  • Psychopathy is the last within the triad. This is an inability to appropriately deal with negative emotions and impulses.

Some additional signs of a toxic employee include:

  • An individual who has been moved around a lot within the company, teams, divisions, etc.
  • Hypercompetitive employees who step over each other to pursue their goals.
  • Individuals who blame others for issues and problems, that they in fact, caused themselves.
  • Individuals who are overly critical of their peers, subordinates, managers, or leadership.
  • An individual who hordes information and doesn’t act with full transparency or integrity.

What Happens If Your “Friend” is Toxic?

  • Take care of yourself first. You know that old saying “put your oxygen mask on first”? It absolutely applies here. What do you need to be happy, productive, and effective to thrive in your career? It’s not just about survival and dealing with the toxic co-workers; think of how you can thrive in your career.
  • Repair Relationships. A toxic work culture can drive to behave in ways that we may not have ever imagined. We can harm relationships inside and outside the workplace. Repair them- and then begin to take responsibility by your own actions and attitudes and hold yourself accountable. It’s easy to be the individual who always complains and criticizes but it’s not easy to be the person who expects more and drives for something exceptional.
  • Form an alliance. The important part is to keep this going and to make lasting changes. Plan some meetings with your co-workers, your manager, and/ or boss and keep the lines of communication open and discussion going. Take purposeful steps to articulate shared values as well as collective rules of engagement to guide everyone’s behavior.

Instituting a new culture doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take some time because it requires changes in behavior. Remember, the next time you sit down with your co-worker to complain and criticize that it could have powerful consequences and negatively impacting those around you more than you may realize.

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Want to reach career bliss? Book a career coaching strategy session today!

Is This What Happens When Your Workplace Stress Disappears?

April is National Stress Awareness Month. It is important that during this time, we discuss what we can do to decrease our levels. However, what about workplace stress? According to the American Institute of Stress, there are numerous studies which show that workplace stress is the major source of stress for American adults and that it has progressively escalated over the past few decades. Increased levels of job stress have been associated with increased rates of heart attacks, hypertension, and other disorders. What are some of the main causes of this stress? 46% cite their workload, 28% mention people issues, 20% state juggling work and their personal lives, and 6% believe it is a lack of job security.

How Does Stress Affect Your Career & Your Wellbeing?

Stress is a highly personalized experience and can vary widely, even in identical situations for various reasons. One’s job stress and the severity of it is dependent on the extent of the demands that are being made and the individual’s sense of control or decision-making leeway is provided in dealing with them. There are scientific studies based on this model, which confirm that employees who sense that they are subjected to high demands but have little control are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

It also has been found that occupations do not really matter because some individuals thrive in different types of fast-paced or slow-paced types of occupations. In other words, the type of role for an individual is very key to their levels of stress and managing them. This is why finding your dream career can also change your life.

Finding Your Dream Job Leads to a Healthier Life

Yes, this is true! Is it worth it to put your health and life at risk everyday just to stay in a position that makes us feel bored, anxious, stressed, or frustrated – and ultimately, unhappy? No, it’s not. You may think that it’s impossible to find a career that you love and doesn’t leave you feeling drained or unfulfilled but that’s simply not true. Your own happiness and fulfillment should be enough reason to make a switch, however, if it’s not- living a longer life should be.

What are some reasons that a fulfilling career leads to a healthier and happier life? Let’s take a look at some.

  • Loving your work- and where you spend most of your waking hours is bound to make you happier. There is at least one study that cites older individuals with more positive moods were 35% less likely to die within the next 5 years. This verifies that the happier you are, the longer you will likely live.
  • Fuel your purpose. We all have a purpose and figuring this out is one of the keys. Also, understanding that loving work and it is the greatest service that we can provide to others and to society, is important. Living with a purpose is critical to living a healthy life.
  • Enjoying your job produces less stress and anxiety. If stress is the #1 killer, then this plays right into it. 85% of people HATE their job. That’s 9 in 10 people worldwide who don’t enjoy what they’re doing daily. Stress is a direct result of spending most of your waking hours doing work that does not produce joy, satisfaction, or reflects your strengths. If this is you, then it is time to seek a new career before it continues to affect your health.
  • Being challenged is preferred to boredom. I speak to a lot of job candidates and most prefer challenging work over boredom. A mental challenge comes from loving your work, whereas, boredom stems from a lack of engagement. Mental alertness and consistently facing mental challenges keep your mind sharp and keeps you motivated and happy.
  • Like attracts like. Having your dream career allows you to attract other people, opportunities, and a sense of community. It has been shown that those with more social connections live longer those counterparts who socialize less. If you feel better about yourself, you are more likely to make an active effort towards connecting with others as well as attracting those like-minded individuals to fuel those bonds.

In short, if you are unhappy with your career, then taking control of your health and stress levels is very much worth it. Our workplaces may be a major source of our stress; however, we have control over if we want to remain in a dead-end, thankless, unfulfilled position that gives you a case of the “Sundays blues” every evening and every weekend.

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Want to reach career bliss? Book a career coaching strategy session today!