Here’s Two Things I Learned From Working With A Toxic Boss
Not many people have the option to leave a lucrative job just because they can’t stand their boss. Many employees in America do not have this option. So, I write this knowing that it is created from a place of privilege.
I made the choice in April 2018 to leave my toxic boss. But there are millions of us still at work – unhappy, disengaged and creating unhealthy lifestyle habits because of our miserable jobs.
Officevibe reports that 75% of employees leave their job because of their boss. Many employers may be shocked to learn this fact, because the consensus is usually that employees leave because they want more pay. In fact, only 12% of employees leave because they want more money.
I left, like 79% of the people in one study, because I felt unappreciated. And underpaid. Here’s two of the most valuable things I learned from working with a toxic boss.
- People will take advantage of your time and skills…if you let them.
I learned this the hard way. Within four months I had more work, more responsibilities and no pay increase. At first the extra workload seemed like a compliment. This extra work meant, my boss trusted me and it showed he’d taken notice of my skills and understood how capable I was.
But after the newness wore off, I noticed I was working more on the weekends. I was forgetting to eat because I “had to finish this last thing.” In fact, once I quit that toxic job this past May, I realized that in 2017 I didn’t receive proper vacation time. I was promised two weeks but even when I went on vacation I was called to my computer.
Skill You Need To Protect Yourself: Boundary-setting.
Before this job, I thought boundary-setting stopped at intimate relationships (parents, lovers, friends). But now I know, anyone who is in a position to take your valuable time and energy needs to be held to a set of boundaries.
Here’s what I did when that same boss asked me to come back to work in September.
I asked him and his team to send me a list responsibilities, goals, and metrics I needed to hit. I wanted to be held accountable for my duties. But most importantly I wanted every single detail laid out so that when this boss inevitably asked me to do more work, I could point to this document and say “That isn’t on my list of duties, can we talk about increasing my pay due to the added responsibilities.”
Now, you’d think this was thorough, right? This toxic boss didn’t agree. In fact, he was annoyed that I was “already telling [him] what I’m not going to do.”
I really needed the money. Like, bad. But when he started to share grievances at something as simple as me requiring a detailed document of responsibilities, I knew it was still a dangerous work environment. Do not give time to people who are committed to disrespecting your time, energy and skills.
- The unpleasantness of your job, shouldn’t spill into other areas of your life.
I was never quite sure when to leave this toxic boss. The pay was good, I learned to love radio again, I enjoyed the content of the work, and my coworkers were supportive.
So, when times did get tough, I found ways to justify the toxicity.
I should have quit the moment the stress from the job starting to pour into other areas of my life. Most notably, my mental and physical health and my relationship with my partner.
But this world we live in glorifies productivity . So I told myself, “this is just how it is,” “my next boss probably won’t be any better,” or “you’ll know when you need to leave.” But I didn’t know. I stayed six months too long. You don’t have to.
Skill You Need To Protect Yourself: Awareness.
This skill is oh-so-difficult to cultivate because we’re so busy. When you hardly have time for yourself, how could you possibly expect to “check-in with yourself” to make sure you are whole and healthy?
Schedule time by yourself. Seriously, put it in your planner or calendar. And I don’t just mean binging on a TV show. I mean real quality time. Attentiveness is key.
Go for a walk. Take a yoga or meditation class. Go get a massage then take yourself out to lunch. Then get a notepad and ask yourself three questions:
- What negative emotions do I have right now? Describe them in detail.
- What positive emotions do I have right now? Describe them in detail
- Am I feeling well? Am I thriving? If not, explain in detail.
Once you get specific about what’s wrong in your life you are in a better position to execute solutions.
This exercise showed me that my job was keeping me from quality time with myself and my loved ones and stagnating my career. That was difficult to recognize because I wasso busy that I didn’t realize I wasn’t acquiring new skills – despite my 60+ hour work weeks.
Don’t play a passive role in your life. You are the only one in control of your happiness and the trajectory of your career.
By Michaé Baisden