Our jobs can be a big source of stress in our lives, especially if the work environment is a toxic one. Dr. Glenn Pickering says workplaces can become toxic because of bad relationships, which, in turn, are often a product of anxiety.

“We all go to work, to church, and be with our families, because we want to belong to that group. Any company or ministry works best when everyone is focused on what’s best for that group. But when we get anxious or fearful, we’re thinking about ourselves, worrying about ourselves, which makes it very difficult for us to be in right relationship because we’re just focused on our own concerns.”

“That will have the effect of wrecking out relationships: our anxiety keeps us too focused on ourselves instead of the group, which then leads us to have bad relationships with the people in the group.”

Part of a healthy work environment starts at the management or leadership level: a leader sets the tone that allows people to focus on what they have to contribute, rather than being worried about themselves. This is key to productivity.

If you’re an individual in a toxic workplace, how can you help improve the situation? Dr. Pickering says the answer is understanding the source of your anxiety.

“The fastest way to break out of that is to literally focus in every way you can on the other person: what they’re saying, how they look, what they’re wearing. Give them a compliment about something they just said or did. In that process of really focusing on them instead of yourself, you’ll already feel less anxious.”

The best solution is to begin genuinely caring for other people’s needs and concerns, which will reduce your own anxieties.

“Everything goes in this order: think, feel, do. Thinking drives my feelings, and my feelings drive my behavior. If I want to change my behavior or my feelings, I have to change my thinking. As long as I’m thinking about myself, then I’m going to feel anxious. And it’s the belief that we’re alone that actually makes us anxious and behave in self-defeating ways. That’s why the Lord says “Be not anxious, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10).

“We have to start off with our thinking. As soon as I am thinking about the other person, really focused on them–how can I help them be comfortable and welcome, how I’m going to be helpful to them at my job, really really truly thinking about them–then my anxiety will literally dissipate all by itself.”

“God understands that, at the foundation of every fear we have is a fear of being alone, which is why, in a thousand pages of scripture, God really makes one promise: I’ll always be with you; you’re not alone.  So we can work on our thinking, and that will help us not feel anxious.”

Dr. Glenn Pickering is, at heart, a scientist and a teacher—a keen observer whose brilliant work with thousands of couples led him to the amazing discoveries that he wants to share with you. The TAG-related books and seminars that he and his wife, Gwen, have created contain the revolutionary insights, real-life examples, and concrete change strategies that have transformed people’s lives and that will help you to create the powerful, loving relationships you always wanted.

Hope for a toxic workplace