Cancer and The Toxic Workplace

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

I have had some very interesting discussions with my friends lately and have found myself learning more and more about what it may be like returning to work after cancer treatments these days. It seems that there is more pressure on everyone to do more, to do better, to work longer, to work harder and to produce at levels that are often unrealistic. Such pressures are having such a negative impact on people, especially after a cancer diagnosis. And yet for many, the stress of their job may have actually been a contributing factor to getting cancer in the first place. So how does one deal with such a situation?

Your life, your health and your peace of mind will be worth the time and effort that you spend to find that job where you are doing what you like and in a situation where you are respected.Barbara Jacoby

One aspect to consider is that people are often very fearful about finding a new position if they want to leave a poor work situation. Because of this, many bosses/employers are treating their employees poorly and getting away with it because they know that they can. Employees are being demeaned and harassed and humiliated and are taking it. The level of the employee does not matter. As a result, the corresponding anger and humiliation is playing itself out when the abused chooses to do the same to their employees and/or to their families, friends and co-workers. The bad behavior seems to be growing and is taking a toll on everyone as a result.

For others who are being treated so poorly in the workplace and who do not have an outlet for expression, they may find that it is affecting their health. Many can’t sleep or eat or find any peace of mind even when they are outside of the situation. For some, anxiety is experienced each time they must face a new work day and they feel defeated and unable to change their circumstances. Many stay in these situations not just for the paycheck but for such things as the insurance coverage which often has the greater value for them. And being surrounded by a group of other employees who are in the same boat only worsens the situation although they do receive some comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

Why anyone would ever choose to treat another person in this way is beyond anything that I can understand. When are we going to realize that you really can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Being nasty to someone else does absolutely nothing to make a person feel better on a personal basis and only alienates them which is the last outcome that a person wants. When will they realize that if they treat others nicely and work with them that it creates an enhanced outcome for everyone?

I have been in the situation on more than one occasion where I had a boss whose own insecurities and poor performance were the catalyst for choosing to take their anger out on me. I imagine just about everyone has been in this situation. It is something that is really difficult with which to deal but if you fall into the trap of doing the same thing to someone else or taking it out on someone else, you have just descended to their low level. No one can ever take pride in themselves and in their work when what they achieve is at the expense of others. No amount of money that they amass will ever make them happy and accomplished and respected. There is nothing to be respected about someone who steals others’ ideas, walks all over them, demeans them and believes that the person should be grateful for even having the job that they do. But, as this trend continues to grow, it’s time to rethink what you are doing if you are accepting this type of treatment in your current position.

Everyone has to decide what works for them on a personal basis. For some, they will continue to work in a bad situation and complain about it because it is a comfortable place to be because it is familiar. That is fine if that is what they want. But, for those who do not wish to continue in those circumstances, there is a way out if you want to do the work to make it happen.

Walking out in a rage will not accomplish anything for anyone. You will have given over your power to someone else and allowed them to affect your life in a less than adequate way. Rather, a person needs to assess their situation and determine how they really feel about it. Is it something with which you can live because it really isn’t that bad and you only have to deal with an occasional inappropriate incident? Do the others around you make your daily workplace a good place to be? Are there ways that you can improve your situation and still keep the position that you have? If not, it’s time to take action.

You will need to plan your exit carefully. You should determine what you would like to do, the area in which you would like to do it and start looking for something new. There may be contacts that you have that can help you, but if not, just remember that you were looking for a job when you got the one that you have so you do know how to go about it. Find that new position first before you leave your current situation as it is always easier to find a new job when you are already employed and just keep remembering why you have made the choice to change jobs. Your life, your health and your peace of mind will be worth the time and effort that you spend to find that job where you are doing what you like and in a situation where you are respected.