By Chron Contributor Updated January 11, 2021
Companies typically have clearly defined policies for dealing with a hostile work environment. Dealing with a workplace environment that is generally hostile can be more challenging because there might be no clear remedy or recourse. Take steps to shield yourself from the negativity by controlling those things you can, identifying coworkers with whom you can form positive bonds and, if needed, reaching out to management for help.
Find an Escape
Shield yourself from the constant negativity of hostile work environment examples by escaping from it. Four simple steps can provide at least a temporary respite from the toxicity. First, take a break. Take a short break outside the office, perhaps in a nearby park. If that's not an option, at least walk around inside or outside the building for a few minutes. Secondly, shut out the hostility by wearing headphones to listen to some relaxing music. Control your immediate surroundings. A third important consideration is to keep your office or cubicle uncluttered, soothing and user-friendly. Brighten your day with a family picture, a flowering plant or a candy jar. Finally, avoid abusive coworkers or direct confrontation whenever possible.
Be Sure to Have Allies
If you feel the work environment is excessively negative, chances are good that other coworkers do, too. Involve like-minded coworkers in any or all of these three steps to share the burden: talk about it, discuss possible solutions and act as a group. Talking about a problem with trusted colleagues can lighten the load because it helps you feel less alone in a negative situation. Work with coworkers and maybe a trusted supervisor to identify possible solutions -- agree as a group to avoid gossip or to share the workload of onerous tasks. A more serious step is to take united action toward improving the workplace atmosphere. Draft a group letter for all to sign asking a coworker to stop using profanity, for example, or develop an approach for a small group to meet with management to express shared concerns.
Take Steps to Be Protected
You must take two important steps to document the problem if you find yourself working in a hostile environment. First, familiarize yourself with company policies related to appropriate behavior and interactions in the workplace. Next, to avoid potential "he-said, she-said" situations, keep careful records of specific events to support any future personnel or legal actions that might arise. General accusations of hostility are far less effective than dated documentation of actual incidents of perceived abuse, deliberate mistreatment, unmet deadlines or sabotage. You should also review harassment policies outlined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Seek Help if Needed
The last step is more challenging than the others but might become necessary in particularly toxic work environments. Talk to your boss about the problems, emphasizes Speed Up Career. The goal should be to make him aware of the problem without sounding petty or like someone unable to be a team player. Be prepared to identify specific steps you want supervisors to take to improve the atmosphere at work. If your boss is the main cause of the hostility, you might need to request the assistance of human resources personnel or seek the assistance of a hostile work environment attorney.