The job interview went well, your prospective boss was nice enough and your colleagues appeared friendly and professional. However, on starting the job, things couldn’t be more different: your boss makes Miranda Priestly look like Florence Nightingale and your new workmates are straight out of Mean Girls. Yes, you’re in the job from hell. If you’re not in a position to make changes to the company’s culture, what can you do? While you can’t force others to stop doing the things that are making your work life miserable, you can change the way you respond to these events, says positive psychology coach Adele Hawkes. In fact, a simple mindset shift can be enough to prevent a toxic workplace from destroying your mental health and wellbeing.  Here are the five best mindsets to adopt to make a job you hate more bearable.

Problem: Hypercritical Boss

Solution: A growth mindset

Ok, so this may seem counterintuitive at first, but if you are dealing with a boss who always focuses on what is wrong and never praises or supports you, it’s time to thank them.

Yes, you read that right. Thank them (in your head, at least) for giving you the opportunity to stay humble and develop a growth mindset – a belief that learning and intelligence can be improved through effort, persistence and hard work.

Research into growth mindsets shows that without the weight of other’s expectations, people often feel the freedom to step outside their comfort zone and try new things – frequently leading to success.

On the other hand, people hyped up by their own success can develop a fixed mindset, causing them to become afraid of making mistakes and therefore not developing the abilities they are capable of.

So try viewing your hypercritical boss’ attitude as an opportunity to grow and explore innovative new approaches to your work, free of the expectation of pleasing them.

Problem: Micromanaging boss

Solution: A productive mindset

Being micromanaged is demoralising, so empower yourself by owning the situation.

You only ever have the power to change how you behave. However uncomfortable it is, start by taking a long hard look at yourself. Does your boss have any legitimate cause for concern?

If so, get proactive. Micromanagers want control, so a productivity mindset will help you anticipate their needs and establish routines that deal with them. If your boss interrupts you incessantly for updates, for example, send progress report emails three times a day. This puts you back in the driving seat.

dealing with bitchy colleagues
The attitude of your colleagues can make a bad job great and a great job bad. Deal with bitchy colleagues by not taking the bait.

Problem: Bitchy colleagues

Solution: A resilient mindset

Derogatory comments are designed to wound, so cultivate your grit and resilience to remain unscathed.

Firstly, remind yourself this is not about you. Insecure co-workers rely on making others look bad to make themselves look good. Secondly, protect yourself emotionally. Stop any self- deprecating thoughts (i.e. ‘they must be right’) in their tracks by keeping a list of your strengths and successes. Finally, seek support from family and friends. Research shows that this helps buffer the negative effects of bullying.

Problem: Colleagues who take credit for your work

Solution: A confidence mindset

Are you often left open-mouthed as someone nonchalantly passes your work off as their own? Unfortunately, this happens all the time.

You may decide to let it pass, choosing to trust that these kinds of tactics soon get spotted.

Or you might prefer to speak up, confronting the person in question to let them know that their actions are unacceptable.

Both responses require a confidence mindset. If you accept the situation, you can draw strength from the fact that your work and ideas are so good other people want to steal them. And if you choose confrontation, you’ll have the courage of your convictions to address the situation head-on.

Problem: Ever-shifting goals

Solution: A flexible mindset

If you are constantly on the back foot because tasks and deadlines continuously change, there are two likely explanations. It could be workplace bullying or it could be more benign, and simply a sign of a complicated workload.

If it’s the latter, then it’s time to roll with the punches. Reacting to setbacks and dealing with adversity is part of life, so having a flexible mindset will help you adjust, embrace change and come up with creative solutions.

If it’s the former, remember that bullying is unacceptable and it might be time to seek advice about your legal rights.

Regardless of the exact nightmare work scenario you’re currently facing, the key thing to remember is to stay flexible and open to change. Doing so will help you see when it’s time to move on. After all, life has a habit of throwing us curveballs. It’s up to us to decide how we want to handle it.



Adele Hawkes

Adele Hawkes

Adele Hawkes is a qualified positive psychology coach who works with clients globally, helping them to capitalise on their strengths and create the happy and successful future they want. As a former PR consultant, she has been helping people achieve long-lasting change for almost 20 years.

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