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7 Ways to Handle Your Dysfunctional Workplace

7 Ways to Handle Your Dysfunctional Workplace

Are things going up in flames? Read these tips

Margot Carmichael Lester |

#4: Tune Out:

If you’re in a position to close yourself off from the insanity and negativity, do it, advises Erik Myers, a database administrator. “I wear headphones all day every day so that I don’t have to listen to the insipid ramblings of my coworkers and how much they ‘love their fat-free salad dressing’ and ‘have you heard about this new diet where if you eat really spicy foods you can eat all you want, because it goes through your system faster and the heat actually burns calories anyway?’” he says.

#5: Enlist Allies:

Sometimes it helps to find what career coach Marty Nemko calls “an island of sanity amid the maelstrom.”

“Find one or two people in the workplace whom you like and can commiserate with, or even laugh at the others’ antics,” Nemko says. “Decide among you whether you want it to simply be a steam-letting-off group or want to look for smart ways to improve things, if only in pockets. And keep your group under the radar—no need for everyone to see you as a clearly identified cabal.”

#6: Look for Patterns:

Studying, but not obsessing over, colleagues’ dysfunctional tendencies can give you an edge, Flagg says. Common patterns are discrepancies between what people say and do and inconsistencies in behavior.

Sure, this familiarity may breed contempt, but it also yields a competitive advantage for you as well as a coping mechanism. “You can not only anticipate problems headed your way, but you can also use the insight to navigate the terrain in a positive and effective way,” Flagg explains.

#7: Leave:

In the end, the best outcome may be to move on. “It’s really the only thing that actually works,” notes workplace expert Billie Blair, author of All the Moving Parts and president/CEO of Leading and Learning. “Our research of these situations has shown that it’s always the good and talented people that the organization loses when there is dysfunction, because they can go other places. Those who can’t simply stay and manage to endure.”