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Being True to Yourself in a Toxic Workplace

April 14th, 2016

Over the past few weeks through conversations with clients, friends, and colleagues I have been struck by the increasing presence of toxic workplaces. Some shared stories of feeling undervalued and unappreciated at work, others described how they have been undermined, or “thrown under the bus” by colleagues desperate to prove their value during corporate restructuring. Still more told of the stress of repeatedly being ‘voluntold’ to produce work which focuses only on quantity to please the CEO when quality is the purpose of their job.shutterstock_224184913.jpg

All of these coaching conversations started out as: ‘how can I possibly do all of this work - I’m being set up to fail”, or, “what is he/she thinking!”, and, “I can’t do quantity giving up quality” to finally, “this is not who I am!”. The level of anxiety, stress, and emotional pain that I heard in their voices was gut-wrenching! The violation of personal values/ethics echoed throughout their stories. 

As I listened to hear and to get to the heart of the matter, it was the comment: “this is not who I am”, that became the springboard for the creation of strategies which helped them re-gain control of the situation through being true to themselves.

So how did they begin to do this?

By asking themselves these key questions and taking the time to reflect deeply on their answers:

  • What values do you hold highest? (Complete our values exercise below.)
  • What principles are important to you?
  •  What part of this situation is preventing you from being true to those values/principles?
  •  What actions do you need to take to center and ground yourself in your values, beliefs, and principles once again?

Once they had accessed the answers to these they were able to create concrete strategies to deal with their workplace situation that felt right and doable for them.

 You have a choice to be who you are…Who do you choose to be? 

Values Exercise