Today I would like to recommend excellent book by Peter Frost, a distinguished professor and consultant based in Vancouver, BC: Toxic Emotions at Work.
Frost begins with his own moment of awakening. Diagnosed with cancer after a stressful administrative job, he began to wonder if workplaces could really make people sick.
Frost interviewed dozens of managers and employees. Using a medical metaphor, he identifies “toxins” spread by vindictive bosses, disruptive working conditions, and budget cuts. He also describes “toxin handlers,” people who accept responsibility for helping and healing others who have been harmed. Toxin handlers often put themselves at risk because, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, they neglect to care for themselves.
I encourage you to look up the book, especially if you are a manager. However, it is important to understand that Frost tells only half the story: how manager can help workers.
Why wait to be rescued? We can learn techniques to heal ourselves. As Frost says, most managers are not trained to be supportive. Often organizations need to prioritize technical and admin skills when hiring managers. Anyway, some managers will never be effective healers, regardless of training or motivation.
Ultimately, we need to learn to recognize and manage our own pain — and I think most people are better off taking charge of their own lives. Hire your own resource — coach, counselor, consultant. Stay healthy and learn to put on your own shield and armor to protect yourself from a toxic workplace.
And if you like this post, you will really like my ebook: Ten Things to Do When You Really, Really Hate Your Job .
Paula Tarrant says
Great article, Cathy! Sometimes on the way to that place where we are really loving our work and pursuing a fulfilling livelihood, we need a just-right-for-now job. One of the critical ingredients for a just for now job is that it doesn’t leave us feeling so drained that we have nothing left over for pursuing the work that calls to our heart. A toxic workplace certainly falls under that category.
Love your question, “why wait to be rescued?” There is nothing more exciting than deciding to be the active creator of your life. Daunting at times? Absolutely! But worth it every time.
Thanks so much, Paula! I love the way you picked up on the idea of a “just for now” job. I call those jobs “perch jobs,” because they’re like birds landing on the wire while migrating … no need to get involved or concerned.