Many people have jobs, but not all of them are lucky enough to have healthy workplaces. One of the reasons that certain workplaces are not healthy is due to a toxic environment, defined by Wharton professor Nancy Rothbard as one where people are experiencing corrosive pressures that are draining them and making them want to leave. And lots of things can make a workplace corrosive. They include poor written and verbal communication, cliques and exclusionary behavior and a rapid employee turnover. 

I see patients regularly who cite such problems making their workplace toxic, and they ask me what they can do about it. Obviously, one option for some is to leave the workplace and find another job. But for those without that option, I recommend that patients start by having a heart-to-heart talk with their direct supervisor and be honest about their struggles with toxicity in the workplace. If that does not work, then I recommend that they research and consider using the HR systems to report their issues. 

Regardless of what option you take, it’s imperative that you avoid long term exposure to toxicity in the workplace, since it can cause the kind of stress that can harm your health. That’s why it’s always a good idea to also talk to your doctor about the stress that you’re experiencing and work to determine how severe it is and what professional course of action makes the most sense for your health.

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