Your workplace might be toxic—not because of mold or chemicals, but because of poisonous people.
Psychologist and author Dr. Paul White talks about Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment – the title of his book co-written with Dr. Gary Chapman.
What are the signs of a toxic workplace?
If you think about how a physically poisonous environment will cause symptoms such as a rash on your skin; a toxic workplace will similarly cause symptoms and our bodies will give us signs that it’s not healthy. Working in a toxic environment makes us:
•Increasingly anxious and irritable
•Not sleep well because we’re so disturbed and dreading work
•Not relate to people or be able to have friends because we work too much
•Develop physical problems, such as heart issues or chronic illnesses
Friends and family can also help realize when a toxic environment is affecting you; if you hear them ask “What’s up with you?” or they point out “You really don’t seem like yourself” then that’s a sign that something is wrong.
“You’ve gotta pay attention to how you’re doing, and then look and say ‘OK, did this stress at work really create this?’ and I would say, along with that, it’s that you just absolutely dread going to work because you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to get through the day without getting beat up in some way…whether it’s personal beliefs, or feeling blamed for stuff.”
Is it possible to carry out your faith in a toxic work environment?
Yes! Dr. White notes that to some it seems like it’s becoming more and more difficult to talk about our relationship with God in the workplace in some ways, but the workplace is a great place to live out our faith and evangelize to co-workers.
People are drawn to Christ and to the church because of Christians’ love for one another and their kindness. If we commit to serve and love other people, then they become more willing to hear the gospel through our testimony.
Dr. White shares the importance of service and integrity in the workplace, despite the circumstances.
“It’s more about serving, and I think along with that perseverance and patience lots times we expect rewards or promotions or anything to happen quickly…but it’s just sort of put one foot after the other and keep doing the right thing and then God honors that over time.”
Having this mindset of serving and being able to share our faith can lessen our stress at work, but it’s still important to pay attention to the warning signs of a toxic workplace. If a workplace is dangerously toxic, Dr. White advises us to seek wise counsel from people we trust to determine the best course of action.