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Keeping boundaries in a toxic work environment

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  anita 9 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #224465

    caroline
    Participant

    I have gone from being unemployed which felt like too long to now being employed in a job where already after only being there nearly two weeks, alarm bells are ringing. Although I took the job on purely just for more money and to get myself out of the rut im in, I am already feeling the dread of interacting with these toxic people at work. I imagined it was going to be like this but of course its now reality. I have never had a job where I have been a valued member of the team so I am cautious for good reason.  I understand some of the negativity I received was caused from my own projections but not all of it. All the jobs I have had have what you would consider menial jobs, the bottom of the ladder, the work nobody wants to do barring the exception of where I have briefly had my own business as a professional. The business was not viable for me to continue and I was struggling to make ends meet and still am so I have put this on hold for now due to other personal reasons. I am still unsure if I will give it another go but for now my priority is needing more money. As this job doesnt pay very well, I will have to take on as many hours as possible to make a difference in my income. I am worried this will affect my mental well being as my last job I was bullied and it knocked my confidence so much even with the little self esteem I had. The type of people im working with are very intrusive, wanting to know personal things about me and my life and are not shy about asking either. Its the way the majority people are in the town where I live. I have no interest in making friends with these types of people as I have had this treatment for too long off my family. They gossip about each other, complain alot, dont listen, lie and one person has already asked if I could drive her back home from work every day because she has no transport. It was awkward but I had to lie and said that I couldnt as I have an arrangement to pick up my daughter. I felt a bit guilty for saying no as I used to be like that, trying to get what I can from others as I felt I lacked so much and didnt have enough resource of my own but I feel like a lesser person because I lied. I have lied about my previous place of work, again because I dont want them to know my business. If I told them the truth, I would get judged and would be treated with disrespect. I want to be as authentic as I can but in my last job I was very honest about who I was and when I answered their questions and I ended up getting bullied for it. Should I just suck it up and try to keep my head down and keep reminding myself that this job wont be forever? I havent slept properly either. I am getting about three hours a night so I know this will definetly be affecting how I see things.

    #224467

    caroline
    Participant

    I would like to add that so far they are treating me ‘nice' as I am using my charm to avoid being mistreated by them. I feel like a fraud, being friendly and giving them my time and interest when in all honesty I couldnt care less about them.

    #224471

    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline:

    It is important that you don't feel like a fraud at work, if you are to continue it. You feel uncomfortable about having lied to the woman who asked you for a daily ride back from home. You even feel guilty for not giving her the rides she requested. I think you felt scared that if you told her a simple NO, she will retaliate against you.

    Following her request, a request she shouldn't have made, by the way, you feel fear and guilt. You lied so to avoid retaliation, motivated by fear. But you feel guilt because you lied and because you didn't say Yes. Am I correct?

    If I am, I would say that better say the truth, not the whole truth but when you do say something to a co worker, see to it that it is true. It will be scary and somewhat of a risk, but as you practice this kind of courage, you make it possible for yourself to get stronger, to be able to endure more fear as you make better and better choices in all life areas.

    Back in time, she asked you for a daily ride, you could say: “No, not a good idea”. Let's say she says: “Why?” You say: “it is not comfortable for me. I want to go straight home after a work day” And you walk away.

    What do you think?

    anita

    #224483

    caroline
    Participant

    Your example is helpful and I will try to use this as a guide for next time if there is one.

    Yes I am afraid or retaliation as I dont want to suffer at work where I end up excluded, ignored and basically full of fear. This has been my experience all my life as far as I can remember. I avoid saying the truth because it makes me different and when I have had the courage to speak the truth in work and with my family, I am always made to feel wrong and ashamed. If I were to have said yes to the womens request for needing me to drive her home, I would have felt depressed and silently angry for going against my own needs and of course extending the time I would be spending with her. This co worker I have already described is actually far easier than the coworker I met today who I will be working with every day. This is a type of women who would try and get you in trouble if you annoyed her in the slightest. I know I can handle this type of person but it means not being who I really am.

    Anita- I started this as a new thread as I dont want to take the focus away from what we have already shared regarding my daughter and family and I will still continue to add more to that thread when I feel the need if its ok with you.

     

    #224487

    caroline
    Participant

    I do beleive being authentic at work comes at a huge risk  to your job satisfaction and wellbeing and if I need work to survive, is it not  justified that I am not authentic at times to protect myself from potential suffering? It is hard for me to be courageous when I am worrying about keeping a roof over my head.

    Please acknowledge my efforts in being very couragous in my previous employment where I ended up feeling humiliated as a result of being ‘too honest'.

    #224499

    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline:

    It is fine with me that you started a new thread and that you will continue to post on the older thread. I will be glad to continue to reply to you on the other thread as well as on this one.

    You wrote: “is it not justified that I am not authentic at times to protect myself from potential suffering?”

    If you were held in extreme captivity, as in a criminal scenario, a gun pointed at you, then of course it is not time to be honest, you say whatever you need to say to stay alive. But in most life situations, although danger is a possibility it is unlikely or the danger is not that horrendous.  it is better to be honest, not to share too much, but just enough so to not compromise yourself unnecessarily.

    I am not suggesting that you will be honest at work because it is the moral or ethical thing to do but because it will help your well being, that is, long term there will be less suffering for you if you are honest.

    You wrote: “It is hard for me to be courageous when I am worrying about keeping a roof over my head”. You shared that the job doesn't pay well, is menial, the kind of job that is the “bottom of the ladder, the work nobody wants to do”. Well, if you lose it, I suppose you can get another menial job that doesn't pay well, one that nobody wants to do, no?

    I mean it is not that you will be losing a good paying job with lots of people waiting to take your spot. This is not a job worth you unnecessarily compromising yourself but it is a good opportunity for you to practice courage. Think to yourself: what is the risk involved, what is likely to be the retaliation?

    As is, with the compromises you make, feeling like a fraud and losing sleep over it, you are not likely to last at the job. So why not try something different (courageously and honestly asserting yourself)?

    anita

     

    #224731

    Amanda
    Participant

    Caroline, thank you for posting about this, and Anita, for your replies and advice. This has been very helpful for me. I've had a lot of that throughout my career. My current job has great people, but my boss is the toxic one .I've been off on stress leave but now I have to go back and I'm absolutely dreading it. My boss has a habit of throwing people under the bus, and I've been that person on more than one occasion. Like you said though, this isn't a forever thing.

    I agree with the advice that, since your job is menial and not well paying, and causing you a ton of stress, you should consider looking for something else. I've been looking too, so I know how hard it can be. Keep your chin up, nothing is permanent, and something better is out there for you.

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