How to Survive a Toxic Workplace

mean girls
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The woes of working in a small team under a narcissistic regime!

The word narcissism gets thrown around quite a lot in this digital age, and this just bugs me to tears!

Why? Because anyone that has been affected by a ‘true’ narcissist will know that it’s more than just oversharing and constant selfies.
Narcissism is a personality disorder and a real narcissist will wreak havoc in both the online and offline worlds. However, not all narcissists are created equal. Some can be quite dangerous, leading to physical and/or emotional trauma. Then there are some that, in essence, have a heart of gold but confuse the hell out of you and leave you wondering – what the *!#? I have experience with the latter, which led to ME to almost being terminated from a company I had been with for over 6 years.

Working with a narcissist will do your head in. Add that person to a leadership role, who manipulates higher management as easily as Michael Phelps taking out a world record, and their egos become inflated to the size of a blimp.
Beware though, this blimp is delicate and extremely fragile – blink an eyelid as the wind turns and it will EXPLODE! You’ll be the first tossed overboard and found splattered all over the ground, all the while our narcissist is gracefully floating to the ground holding onto Mary Poppins’ umbrella.

Once the narcissist has established themselves into a position of power, the workplace will soon crumble and a foul stench of toxic waste will bubble. Moods change, anxiety levels increase, productivity decreases.
Unfortunately, once a workplace becomes toxic the negative energy will deeply impact the narcissist. They will feel threatened and will already have a strategic plan in place to make sure that they don’t go down with the ship or are seen to be the one steering it. Deflection is their superpower and accountability is not in their vocabulary.
So, how do you survive this toxic workplace and a narcissistic boss?

LEAVE! Is your mental health and reputation worth trying to survive this? Find value in yourself and if you can find work elsewhere, do it.
However, if you are like me and have no choice but to stay you’ll need to SICK at it. I created that – like the play on words? Here’s how to turn this type of atmosphere around and avoid termination:

Sensitivity – remember this is a personality disorder, and most narcissists are unaware of their behaviour. They view situations different to others and often believe their fabricated stories to be 100% true.

Inspire positivity – if colleagues appear to be unhappy, a narcissist may take this personally. They can smell a rat a mile away and will have reported you long before you even consider consulting higher management about them instead. Avoid engaging in office gossip as this keeps the negative wheel spinning, and is a form of bullying.

Constant vigilance – don’t let your guard down EVER! Jokes can be misconstrued, a slip of the tongue, or a look of frustration will all be used against you in a court of HR.

Kiss Butt! Narcissists love attention, they need to feel like they are the person with the most or alternatively the most hard done by. Be in awe of their stories, regardless of how BS they sound.

Please note, the above method is based on my personal experiences and should only be used in harmless working environments. If you are being treated unfairly, or if you are being harmed (physically or mentally) then you need to report this immediately. Your HR department are required to investigate thoroughly, and if you don’t have a HR department seek legal advice.

 

 

Author: Jemay Nelder
Blogger, Social Media Consultant, Mother, Wife, Media Communicator, Ex Travel Agent, Local Community Engager.

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