The effects of constant criticism at work can be physically and mentally taxing. Toxic work environments can produce intense levels of stress among employees, leaving them emotionally drained and doubting their self-worth. For some, the effects of an unhealthy work environment may continue beyond the workplace, even impair their domestic life. Bringing that toxicity home from work means that other members of the family have to endure your venting of the pent-up tension and stress experienced throughout the day.
Your family life doesn’t have to suffer and neither do you. There are ways to deal with constant criticism on the job. Learning to protect yourself can help relieve stress and bolster your self-esteem. However, if the toxicity of the work environment is at such a level that it has damaged your career aspirations, it’s probably a sure sign that it is time for a career change.
From time to time, we all experience individuals in a workplace whose behavior and actions are nothing less than the opposite of an elbow. In a healthy work environment, such behavior is dealt with effectively, for the workplace and the company. If negativity is left unchecked or even encouraged, study after study has shown the real cost of toxic work environments impacts the bottom line of companies upwards of an estimated $3 billion annually.
Identifying a Toxic Work Environment
Constant fault-finding by supervisors, team leaders, colleagues and coworkers is a sign of a destructive and-or psychologically damaged workplace. Such behaviors are unacceptable in any environment, let alone work. True—constructive criticism and healthy feedback can improve your performance, but it needs to be factual, specific and delivered by someone with the experience and knowledge to back it up. The result should be uplifting, enlightening, motivational, and empowering for all parties involved. However, being the target of unfair, constant criticism in the workplace has the opposite effect of diminishing and undermining performance, and wreaking havoc on morale.
If you find yourself in such a work environment your options are somewhat limited depending on who is delivering the criticism—a manager or colleague. You can choose to tolerate it, which is inadvisable for your own sanity, learn to protect yourself, or move on.
If you are constantly subjected to a barrage of undeserved criticism do not doubt yourself or your abilities. Unfair criticism is easily identifiable. It will be leveled against you personally, designed to stun you or inflict emotional harm, rather than address a specific performance issue that needs to be addressed. Recognize it for what it is and who it’s coming from. You can only ignore it for a period of time or you can take constructive steps to shut it down.
Finding a Resolution
Whoever is voicing the undue constant criticism, your boss or a coworker, the first step is to document it. Make note of the behavior and the type of criticism, and find someone you trust to confide in who may corroborate your experiences. You can alert your team leader or manager if it is a coworker or clique of coworkers, or the HR department if it’s your boss. The fact is, ongoing criticism is a form of harassment and should be reported. You can also set boundaries immediately by confronting the individual in a professional manner. Calmly ask your boss to be specific about performance issues or directly ask your coworker to tell you exactly what you’ve done to continually merit their criticism. In truth, you deserve an explanation for such behavior. If an answer is not forthcoming or the behavior remains unchanged, at the very least your attempt to resolve the problem is on record.
The reality is there is no reason to expend your time and creativity in a toxic work environment or being around toxic people. If you have the Sunday night blues, are afflicted by dread, stress, anxiety and general malaise about your job, it’s time for a career change. Pursuing a career change can be a liberating experience. With the proper tools, counseling, and direction, you can find a new career and bring meaning back into your life. Through a customized process at Core Themes, our career counselors work to bring meaning and purpose to the lives of people left dissatisfied with their work and who are ready to move on. We help our clients chart new career paths by developing strategies to support ideal career decisions. If you have had enough of the constant criticism and toxic workplace, consider Core Themes to help create the change you desire in the workplace and request a free consultation today.