How to Survive in a Workplace Riddled with Bad Culture

People are just the worst. Straight up. I’ve worked many a job and have come to learn one incontrovertible truth – a bad workplace culture is deadly. Well, look past the hyperbole and you’ll see what I mean. Bad workplace culture is the new smoking. We all know it’s bad for us, yet we generally don’t do much about it. Actually come to think about it, at least the smokers are enjoying themselves. I’m yet to meet anyone who enjoys working in a toxic environment. I don’t, however, think it’s too much of a generalisation to say that most workplaces are susceptible to bad culture.

Think about previous jobs you’ve held. When you started, did you meet that person who had nothing positive to say about the place? I’d wager they said it with a Cheshire grin, as if they were telling you a joke so amusing they almost ruined it by laughing at it themselves before the punchline. The worst thing that can happen is to become a victim of this awkward conversation, consisting of politely smiling and nodding on your behalf, only to find yourself giving the same monologue to the next lot of newbies 3 months later.

Now I am a man of little pride, so I’d be remiss to neglect myself from the “Negative Nancy” category of workplace occupants. So I may as well draw on my regrettable credential and share with you all some advice that will hopefully improve your workplace experience.

Workplace gossip

Ahh, workplace gossip, the social herpes one can catch when engaging in unsafe employment. To paraphrase Ben Foster’s portrayal of William S Burroughs in the motion picture ‘Kill Your Darlings,’ show me the man, woman or child who’s never participated in gossip and I will show you the wrinkled anus of a lying asshole.

Everyone who’s ever held a job has done it. I’ve certainly done it. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve definitely done it. Gossip is cheap cologne; it draws attention to it’s source, but not necessarily for the right reasons. I promise to ease off the diluted paraphrasing for now.

Do your best to resist this barbaric workplace ritual. Gossiping is tantamount to shitting on someone’s doorstep during the witching hour. When you’re at work, particularly when said employment is less than convivial, it’s easy to forget how much bigger the world is than you. Suddenly the bounds of existence extend no further than the front door and the trivial transforms into the pivotal.

There is no cure other than to heed this simple tip; consider how much your life is affected by the topic of gossip. I submit to you that 9 times out of 10, it will be less than insignificant. The gossip we engage in is nothing more than verbal vanity. Gossip is the Criss Angel of workplace relations; it’s stylised aesthetic at best.

Employee superiority

It is entirely plausible to assume that someone who’s been in a job longer than you probably knows more than you about said job. But there is a line between using your experience to educate others and using your experience to diminish others. I am all for learning, but I don’t need someone looking down their nose at me simply because I gained employment at an establishment however long after them.

Let me break some shocking news to you – I don’t care how long you’ve been working somewhere; you don’t know everything. You may know more than some or most people, but you still have the capacity to learn more.

I find it genuinely interesting how quickly we forget how much we once didn’t know about something. It seems that once we reach a certain level of knowledge, we assume that everyone else around us knows just as much, and proceed to berate those who express ignorance. This is nothing short of foolishness. Try your best to remember where you came from.

It might sound cliché or dated, but it could be the difference between you being the workplace asshole or the workplace Yoda.