blog conversation: dealing with bad work experiences, part 2

yesterday we started a discussion of bad job experiences – part of a blog conversation i’m having with jacob share from the job mob.

so yesterday we set the scene – an awful, awful work environment with a boss or co-workers who make your life miserable.

what can you do about it?

here are the first steps back to career health that i’ve helped some clients take:

phase I – resign

  • if you’re still in that horrible environment and you’ve tried a few things to make it better – get out. if your boss or abusiv coworker walks like a monster, talks like a monster and quacks like a monster – guess what, she’s a monster! (well, probably not – but then you’re not his therapist; it’s not your job to help bring out the angel in that person) get away from the job, even if it’s going to cost you a few weeks’ worth of wages.

phase II – recovery

  • once you’re out of that environment, do whatever you need to do to bring your mental and physical health up to speed. if this takes you a few weeks – so be it. dedicate yourself to it. i’ve seen too many people say, “oh no, i can’t afford to go away for a few days/join a gym/catch up on my sleep because i need to look for another job.” jumping immediately back into the labour pool without replenishing your resources hugely increases your chances at landing yet another bad job.

phase III – resources

  • figure out what your values are, especially your social values. your values are a resource; something that helps you live well. most people who find themselves in difficult work environments don’t use this resource very well. questions are, what role does respect play, and how can you tell you’re respected? what type of personal boundaries do you need? which of your values are non-negotiable?
  • make an inventory of your assets. what skills, experience, knowledge, talents and attitudes do you enjoy using at work? in this phase, it’s really important to focus on that. never mind what you’re not so good at (i bet your old boss was very good at pointing that out) – what are you good at? what makes your heart sing?

let’s hear it from you – have you had bad jobs? did you recover from them? what were your first steps towards a better work environment?

i’m looking forward to what you, gentle readers, have to say about it, as well as jacob’s reply. in future posts, we’ll also talk about the last three phases: research, re-apply and results.

(go here for the next instalment)

11 thoughts on “blog conversation: dealing with bad work experiences, part 2

  1. Nancy

    I think another element in the ‘recovery’ is to acknowledge and fully grasp that it was an abnormal work situation (well, I HOPE abnormal!) — ie., name it as abusive, toxic whatever. And sort of recalibrate your expectations for a healthy work environment.

  2. wayne

    I try to see my role in it as well, especially when it comes to my students. Not to take all the blame, but to realize that I was a part of the situation that went wrong. Going through the incident in that frame of mind has led me to become a better teacher. Recently, an awful incident happened in my classroom. One of my first thoughts was “I bet this student could do much better if I set up his program …..” Part of my brain wanted to just focus on how I could get the student out, but that seed was planted and it looks like after an extended time away from my class he will be coming back and the student and I are happy with the changes I had imagined within 24 hours of the incident.

    I have never had an abusive boss, they have been other things but not abusive.

  3. Kat

    So I have a new boss that is absusive – very controlling and passive agressive. I have been looking for a new job – beyond the new boss the organization is not healthy – but I do not have the resources or the stomach to quit and then find a new job. So I am continuing to work and trying to survive without the enviroment tearing me down. How do you survive on your way out…?

  4. isabella mori

    kat, that’s a very good question, and first of all, let me wish you good luck in finding something else ASAP!

    in a situation like that, one good way to go is to emotionally disengage yourself. there are probably a number of situations throughout the day where you feel emotionally “hooked” – something happens and you immediately feel angry, hurt, anxious, etc.

    next time this happens, stand back, take a deep breath, and say to yourself, “this has nothing to do with me.” that way you withdraw the emotional hold your work has over you.

    if you can, it’s good to also change location – go to the water cooler, to the washroom, take the elevator to the lobby – whatever. physically removing yourself from the location where you experience disquiet helps tell your subconscious that you mean it – you do want to disengage.

    let me know how it works!

  5. Jane

    I am in a very bad situation at my job right now. I transferred 2 and a half months ago from another hospital. I am my boss’s secretary and she and I hardly communicate. She is very rude most of the time. At the beginning they shoved a lot of work at me, and haven’ t given me ample time to learn the job. It is in the Emergency Department. I have been told by the VP that I was not a good fit for the job who also sent me to HR to apply for other jobes at the hospital. I have been diligently applying for suitable postitions for about 2 weeks now. I have had one interview and have another lined up. This VP came to me today and backs me into a corner again asking what jobs I have applied for and suggesting others that are open that are not in the secretarial line but still clerical. One of my tasks has been to manage my boss’s e-mails in which I can just print out and catorgorize as follow-up or FYI and organize by date. I am still new and cannot act on any of these e-mails, so therefore I cannot manage this for her. I am literally sick at my stomach after this woman talks to me. How can I cope? I can’t quit because I need my insurance and salary. My husband is retired. I have been with the organization for over 2 years and was very succesful at my previous job with the organization. Help!!

  6. Liara Covert

    As a person evolves to recognize a level of toxicity in the workplace, it can take time to raise awareness of the underlying reasons for being there. In many cases, this is part of a learning curve. It can be part of awakening to subtle thoughts and behaviours that do nto serve you. This is necessary in order to change.

  7. Granny Smith

    If you can afford it – cut your hours and go to part time. I am employed at two places- both toxic, both dead ends. However, I noticed that since my hours were cut – I am less tired and on edge.

    I have some health issues related to the verbal abuse at work, but will only quit once I find better employment. I think that rest is essential along with creating a stable home environment to return to.

    I have had a lousy job search bc I feel
    So drained and sad after work. I decided to change it by making time to rest when I am not working.

    People wonder why I have not been pounding the pavement – but I must take care of myself because I matter.

  8. MICHELLE

    I TOO HAVE HAD TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENTS – TWO IN A ROW. NEVER HAD THIS BEFORE IN 8 YRS. OF EDUCATION. GOT MARRIED – MOVED TO A NEW SCHOOL – DISASTER ALL THE WAY IN TOXIC ENVIRONMENT – HAD TO RESIGN ONE MONTH EARLY DUE TO HEALTH. DECIDED TO LOOK FOR ANOTHER TEACHING JOB – SAME THING – BUT WORSE IN TOXICITY. NOW – LOOKING ELSEWHERE FOR SOMETHING THAT WOULD BRING WELL-BEING IN MY MENTAL HEALTH. PRAYING FOR RESULTS SOON – POSSBILY OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM.

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