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Toxic Work Environments - 10 lessons learnt

(Originally posted Jan 31, 2021)


Toxic work environments are unfortunately quite common. Coming out of one myself, here are a few lessons I have learnt. I hope it helps anyone who is struggling in a similar situation.

  1. Don't let anyone kill your spirit. - Your spirit is unique, keep it alive and keep it strong.

  2. Show up everyday and look your best.

  3. Document, document, document! - Always have a paper trail, an email or a receipt, no exceptions.

  4. When documenting, - be clear, be concise and be polite but always keep factual and to the point.

  5. If you think you are being 'set up' to fail, or to be discredited, you are! - Point number 3 will help support your case.

  6. When you figure out the game that is being played, play it better! - Don’t show that you understand what is happening… play stupid until its time to be smart.

  7. Stay focused. - Focus on your life goals, focus on what matters to you. Your time will come, just do your best.

  8. Be pleasant, be firm but be fair when dealing with colleagues and situations.

  9. Never tolerate disrespect - don’t retaliate but don’t ignore. Either speak calmly or walk away and document the situation.

  10. Always double boil the tea, it tastes so much better that way…! (A trick I learnt courtesy my Business Development Lead).

If you have any learning points to add, please do!


Support goes a long way to survive in these situations but choose whom you can trust carefully. It might be best to rely on your network outside of the work environment and it is always ok to ask for help from professionals you trust. Doctors, Counsellors, Psychologists and Executive Coaches can provide you with help you need to guide you through difficult situations.


If you have an Occupational Medicine department, this might be a good place to start if you need confidential advice at work. Occupational Medicine Physicians are trained to give unbiased and confidential advice as they understand your work environment better than most other professionals. They also explore your individuality and your health.


Executive Coaches are usually recommended for persons in managerial positions. They are trained to be your lifetime, leadership coach and can help you throughout your career as you deal with stressful situations which go beyond the toxic work environment.



Remember, there is always help available if you seek it out and if you are open to receive it. Keep pressing on.


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