Workplaces can often seem like a second home. After all, you spend almost a third of your day there. Inevitably, you also tend to spend more time with your co-workers than you do with your own families.
It naturally follows that – if you’re not happy with your work environment, the resulting dissatisfaction can easily creep onto your personal life, damaging everything from your self-esteem to relationships. It can also lead to job burnout, fatigue, and depression.
A dysfunctional workplace is terrible for all the obvious reasons: unclear expectations, unrealistic workload, artificial stresses, tyrannical bosses, toxic co-workers, and/or all other miscellaneous factors that might warrant the “dysfunctional” tag.
However, the repercussions of such toxicity can be much more than the obvious. If you stay in one long enough, you run the risk of having your idea of “normalcy” totally distorted. You might end up accepting unnatural things (things that you shouldn’t be tolerating at all) as commonplace – like unfair pay or being yelled at! Perhaps, the most troubling is the way the dynamics of a bad job can stay lodged in your brain and haunt you even after you leave. For instance, if you learned at your old job that you’d be berated for the smallest of mistakes and thus should avoid coming clean about them, you might try to cover up mistakes at your new job too—and if the latter has decent management, it might not go down well with them.
If you are stuck in a glaring bad workplace, take a conscious decision to not let it recalibrate your norms. Try to understand how other workplaces in similar industries operate — say, by talking to your friends – to serve as a counterweight to what you’re experiencing. And if you find yourself changing your behavior to deal with a dysfunction (for example: stifling your initiative, not speaking up about problems, or simply disengaging), keep reminding yourself that those strategies are workplace-specific. And when you do get to your next gig, make sure to actively adjust your expectations.