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AdviceHey, Bonita!

I Work in a Wack Workplace, What Should I Do?


One of my coworkers is being treated horribly by two of our bosses and one coworker. It’s just appalling and unprofessional, abusive and evil. This coworker and I are close, and it makes me furious to talk to him about how he’s being treated. I know that he can’t quit, and I enjoy my job otherwise. The problem is that I don’t know how to act around the two bosses and the coworker that I mentioned earlier. It’s known that this bullied coworker and I are buddies, and the bully gang is very petty, so I don’t want them to start targeting me, too. The thing is, I don’t want to talk to them, don’t want to look at or even fake pleasantries with them, and I don’t want to go to them for anything. How can I navigate my malice for these bullies without making myself a target or even losing my job? I guess I need to chill? 

I really can’t think of a worse time for a person to realize they work in a toxic environment.  Bullying should not be tolerated in any form, in any workplace, and it’s hard to stop it when you’re dealing with such power imbalances. It’s disappointing that upper management is involved, but not surprising, since insecure people will exploit any tiny amount of power they have over others just to pad their own egos. I’ve had plenty of abusive, exploitative and just plain awful supervisors and managers in my day, and it took me a long time to realize that I really didn’t need them. As a worker, you’re a commodity that your boss is seeking to use until it isn’t usable anymore, and then they’ll replace you. So why not put yourself first and work for people you like? I have never once regretted quitting a toxic workplace. No one likes job hunting, but I don’t think anyone likes being browbeaten and ganged up on by supervisors and coworkers either.

Yeah yeah yeah, you really enjoy your job and your coworker “can’t quit” right now, but eventually you will both run out of excuses for rolling boulders up a hill. The resentment you feel for your coworkers will definitely bleed into your attitude about your work—it’s inevitable, and I learned that the hard way. Keeping your head down and riding it out sounds like a good idea, but that won’t guarantee that you won’t eventually be targeted by them. Did your friend even do anything to bring on this bullying? Probably not. What really stinks is that Georgia is a right-to-work state where employees can be fired for any reason, so you could get canned just for not playing nice with these cruel dummies.

The best thing you can do, in terms of managing day-to-day affairs in such a toxic workplace, is to focus on your work and your work alone. Come in, do your job, and go home. Basically, put on blinders. Don’t speak up. Don’t stand up for yourself or anyone else. If you just want to get paid and be left alone, then the only thing I recommend you do is nothing. 

Psych! That’s terrible advice. Guess what? The company you work for is not your family. I don’t know what it is about your jobs that make you both feel like you can’t quit, because you have not described a very attractive workplace to me at all. 

How to quit a toxic workplace: When you start applying for new jobs, use a trustworthy person as a reference for your current job. Choose that reference very wisely and make sure that they will sing your praises. Interviews are all happening via Skype or Facetime nowadays, so just wear a nice top and find a solid wall for a professional background. Tell absolutely NO ONE that you are looking for a new job, and only give your notice once you have a start date. I also recommend having some money saved to fall back on, in the event that they fire you anyway after you’ve given notice. That’s fairly common.

You and your friend are both too good to be working at such a toxic place. Leave.

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