A toxic work environment takes its toll on a person’s attitudes, thoughts, and feelings as a professional and a person. Being able to separate oneself out from the negativity at work and disengage is so important for the target yet next to impossible because of how the tentacles of the workplace aggression wrap itself around the target.

Targets actively need to pursue emotional disengagement from the turmoil of their workplace. Because targets are often dedicated and hardworking employees who vest in their job and/or profession, this can be extremely problematic for them. However, disengagement from the emotional chaos is the first step for in personal empowerment process.

Emotional disengagement does not mean that the target changes or alters their work ethic, but rather it focuses on de-investing oneself emotionally from the aggression that is happening in the workplace. It is about changing the mindset and the focus of the target from the aggressor, back onto themselves.

Targets need to make a conscious decision to react differently to how they are treated. They can take their power and control back. Targets who make this decision continue to do the work to the best of their ability, but they stop allowing the aggressor to affect how they react or feel. Targets make a choice to de-vest from their work and reinvest in themselves as a professional and a person.

Personal empowerment involves protecting oneself as a target by maintaining strict control of emotions. Workplace aggressors frequently push the buttons of a target that in turn emotional react. These emotional reactions more often than not encourage the aggressor to keep going. Deep breathing and self-talk techniques used in meetings or in conversations with aggressors are vital tools that help target keep their emotions in check and in turn, increase personal empowerment.

Developing escape plans are beneficial when the target feels emotions rising or the environment is too toxic.

One of these I frequently used when I felt cornered in my office was I would begin to pull my things together and I would say, “Hi John, I can see you want to talk to me, but I was just heading to a meeting across campus. Can I come down to your office when I get back in an hour? And, what did you need to talk to me about?” This allowed me to develop an understanding of what the aggressor wanted to talk to me about but also granted me with time to think about my response. On more than one occasion, when I would go down to the aggressor’s office, they were not even interested in talking with me and a potential abuse avoided.

Being able to avoid situations and maintain control reinforces for a target that they have good professional judgment. This is another step in the personal empowerment process.

It is important for a target to re-focus their thoughts on the positive aspects of their work and profession. This is again a difficult task because a persistent workplace aggressive environment is extremely negative and coming to work at times becomes challenging. I suggest developing a system that works for you which may include keeping a list that you add to everyday or putting post it notes around your work space. I often identified one thing each day and would continue to think about this one positive aspect of my job repetitively all day. It at times encompassed small things, such as having a great desk chair, access to a coffee shop, a short commute, or even having an office door that locked. This seems very small. However, in a persistent workplace aggressive environment, the target is regularly consumed with negativity and concentrating on positive work characteristics helps personal empowerment by distancing the target from the negative. It changes their focus to a more positive one and again reinforces their professionalism.

Targets need to take care of themselves by vesting in themselves outside of work and leave work at work.  Developing a self-care system at home prevent the target from obsessing and thinking about work.  It provides them with a much needed break from the hostility.  Targets need to find a hobby that they can do which keeps their thoughts on them and not on work including exercise, yoga, music, and etc. Taking care of you is so important in the personal empowerment process because it once again emphasizes how essential you are no matter what is happening at work.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at jankircher.com. Help is out there.



12/20/2016 9:37am

My working environment is very toxic as well but after I read the best essay review, I was able to drastically improve my environment. Yes, I suppose that personal empowerment is necessary in order to realize everything.

06/22/2017 7:40pm

As a working student, I also feel the same. In my workplace, one thing that I really noticed is how much toxic the place is. People are all negative, I think that they don't really smile at all, everyone is stressed because of our boss. This is kind of different for me because usually, I am the kind of person who always think positively, I am not used to people like them and I want a better surrounding. But if we are going to think closely, working in this place will also be beneficial for me, I will learn how to associate well with others who is not the same as me and that will help me to think of other people as well.


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