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How Do You Know You’re Working in a Toxic Workplace?

Contrary to popular belief, your job isn’t supposed to make you hate existence.

I quite like my current line of work, but I’ve held jobs in the past where, during my entire time there, I had a distinct feeling of… wrong-ness, for lack of a better word. Truly dysfunctional, toxic workplaces never start that way, but rather become that way over time due to a mishmash of unlucky happenstance and poor decisions. Certain fixes like changes in management can remedy this, but when a workplace starts exhibiting particular characteristics, it may be wiser to simply cut your losses.

Take a look around at your coworkers. Is everyone constantly in a bad mood? Is there always some kind of drama going on? Does it feel like everyone wants to communicate with each other as little as possible? A toxic workplace often has a lot of pent-up tension. Nobody wants to be the one to pop the cork, so they try to limit conversation to the bare minimum. Obviously, this is no way to run a business. Of course, while not always the case, bad management certainly doesn’t help things either. Tyrannical, incompetent bosses only exasperate existing problems, assuming they’re not the ones creating them themselves.

There are also practical factors to consider. In a workplace where no one wants to talk, there’s probably not much in the way of upward mobility. If everyone’s constantly in the exact same position for years on end, it’s a sign that the business is stagnating. You can smell stagnation on the wind when meetings serve no purpose and nothing seems to get done. Stagnation is antithetical to the human condition; we’re supposed to learn and grow, not sit in the same spot and do nothing.

If this sounds like your workplace, you’re likely not doing yourself any favors by staying there. Your job should stimulate and challenge you, not make you dread getting up in the morning.

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