If you’re like most people, then you spend 9 hours per 5 days each week at work. That’s 45 hours per week—or 26.7% of your life. That’s a lot. But these statistics only concern the average person; many people spend way over 26% of their time at work.
When you find yourself spending such a big portion of your life in one place, you need to make sure it’s a healthy environment. Work not only takes up most of your days, but it also plays a central role in shaping up the rest of your life. If you work in a healthy environment that encourages you to be better, you’re bound to find more happiness and balance in other areas in your life.
On the other hand, working in a toxic environment will drain you on both physical and mental levels. In the long run, even your emotional health will be negatively affected. One of the biggest reasons behind a toxic work environment is a bullying boss.
If you’re unfortunate enough to go through this experience, here’s what you can do about it:
Focus on your work
Bullying bosses want to see you fail; it gives them a sense of superiority. They’ll keep criticizing your work, blaming you for their actions, comparing your work to other employees, and they’ll do everything they can to make you feel bad about yourself. If you give in to their discouragement, you’ll be proving them right. But even if you take them out of the equation, you should never let anything affect the quality of your work. You’re doing it for yourself, not for anyone else.
Try to understand their behavior
Perhaps if you try to understand their behavior, you’ll realize how their toxicity stems from their own insecurities and emotional trauma. Perhaps, they’ve been holding on to so many unresolved issues, the only way they know how to deal with it is by inflicting pain on others. It gives them a sense of power and control; two things that they lack in other areas in their lives.
Understanding their behavior can make you more empathetic, but that’s not the main goal. By understanding why they’re behaving the way they are, you’ll realize that there’s nothing wrong with you.
Once a bully finds no resistance to their abuse, they’ll keep going. You’ll need to stand up for yourself, but you don’t want to come off as too aggressive either, so they won’t place the blame on you. You can set limits by focusing on your body language. Stand straight and talk confidently and respectfully; don’t show any signs of being intimidated by them. If they give you irrational orders or additional tasks after your work hours, respectfully refuse them. It’s your right.
Communicate with colleagues
Chances are, you’re not the only one being abused by your toxic boss. It’s good to communicate with the rest of your colleagues and understand whether or not the boss is treating everyone that way, or just you. While it’s nice to have friends, make sure you don’t speak of your boss in a disrespectful manner behind their back.
Turn to your mentors
If you have any mentors working in the same workplace, it’s a good idea to seek their advice. They’ll either give you useful advice about how to deal with the toxic boss or they’ll guide you toward the best person in the company to take your concerns to.
Speak with HR
Whether or not you seek counsel from your mentors, if you find that the situation has reached a destructive level, then perhaps it’s time to speak with the HR department. Make a rational list of all the abuse you’re being faced with, and make sure you provide sufficient proof so they can take you seriously.
Pursue legal action
There are times when the actions of bullying bosses result in workplace accidents, whether it’s linked directly or indirectly to their negligence. If you’ve suffered a workplace injury or emotional trauma because of your boss, you can seek legal action; just make sure you do your research and read more about the eligibility of filing a workers’ comp claim. It can be tricky, but an experienced lawyer will help you through the process.
The presence of a toxic boss in the work environment is among the biggest causes of work-related stress and psychological conditions. In order to preserve your peace of mind, the best you can do is to focus on your work, understand that you’re not the problem, stand up for yourself, communicate with your colleagues, and seek advice. If you’ve suffered any kind of physical or emotional damage from their abuse, then it might be time you took legal action, as well.