Many people have complained to family and friends, saying that “my job has destroyed my confidence”. This is a sad commentary on how some businesses create or promote a toxic work culture, while others simply turn a blind eye to employee disagreements and resentments. If you have experienced a hostile workplace or aggressive coworkers, then you may be experiencing low self-esteem on the job – and may need some tips on how to regain confidence at work.
What Is Low Self-esteem?
“Low self-esteem is when someone lacks confidence about who they are and what they can do. They often feel incompetent, unloved, or inadequate. People who struggle with low self-esteem are consistently afraid about making mistakes or letting other people down.”
What is a toxic work environment?
There are many jobs that are considered difficult, demanding, and even dangerous. But, these work environments have been so labeled because of the nature of the work itself, and not the attitude of coworkers, management, or customers. In order to discover how to regain confidence after toxic job, you must know if it really is the work environment that is negative or if it is your own attitudes about coworkers and supervisors that is the problem.
A toxic work culture will feature some of the following situations that are persistent and causing a person to dread or even hate going to work:
- A company culture that allows coworkers, managers, or customers to use negative language, negative posturing, or negative behaviors to employees.
- A job where grievances are not resolved because supervisors and HR tend to avoid dealing with workplace complaints about employee behavior.
- A job where employees are devalued, roles are unclear, and communications are only one way (top-down), which creates an unspoken but palpable toxic work environment.
There are many behaviors that are attached to the above 3 toxic environments. Some of these attitudes, actions, and behaviors include sarcasm, passive-aggressive behavior, lying or not speaking up, unrealistic deadlines, excessive work pace, hostility, and finally – sexual harassment.
9 Ways To Deal With A Low Self Esteem
So, you’ve finally found a new job, moved into a new department, or have a new supervisor that is conducive to a healthy workplace. Or, maybe you’re still at the same job with the same bad work culture. Continue reading for tips on what to do with the negative effects of a toxic job that has caused you to experience low-esteem, and more importantly, how to regain confidence at work.
1. Avoid participating in negative behaviors
Low self-esteem may be quickly creeping into your personality, but still, you must have the clarity of mind to avoid participating in any bad-mouthing, gossip, or revengeful behavior towards your abuser(s). You can’t increase your own self-esteem if you’re wallowing in the mire of small-minded individuals who prefer to act like children rather than behave like adults.
Leave the negativity and stress at the door, before you walk into the workplace. If at all possible, try to keep some distance from your aggressors while you discover how to regain confidence after toxic job.
2. Give yourself a break and stay healthy
Some issues with self-esteem may carry over from childhood, and it is the acts of a coworker or supervisor that is bringing up your negative internal child. To regain confidence on the job, first realize that you’re not perfect, and you can’t expect anyone else to be perfect either. So give yourself a break and focus on your own mental, physical, and emotional health.
Eating well, sleeping well, and getting some exercise and social functioning outside of work will go a long way into improving how you feel about yourself. Low moods and low self-esteem are difficult to infiltrate a person that is living a quality lifestyle. Define what quality living means to you, and get about putting your energies into those activities.
3. Practice being assertive – Avoid being aggressive
No one should be told to sit quietly and take abuse from a coworker or supervisor. Even if the work culture does not embrace speaking up and speaking out about workplace negativity, there are ways to be assertive without being aggressive. Learn to say ‘no’ when you feel you are being overstretched beyond your abilities.
Being assertive is a great way to build confidence because this type of behavior, when done right, should offend no one and should defend your rights to a hostile-free workplace.
4. Connect with supportive coworkers
For those who suspect that “my job has destroyed my confidence”, you may be going through a period of incompetent or inadequate. Often, these feelings don’t have to be associated with your ability to do your job, but may be connected with your ability to socialize and get along with others at work. To offset feeling of low self-esteem, associate more with like-minded coworkers and those who don’t participate in passive-aggressive behaviors.
It’s easy to think that everyone at work is against you, but there are always positive co-workers who support you. Look to these individuals to share lunch or an after-work drink and allow them to boost you up when you’re feeling down.
5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
Too often, we fail to recognize that managers are under their stresses and coworkers have their own life problems that they may be dealing with. Unless there has been a one-on-one confrontation with someone, it is likely that the employee who is exhibiting the negative behavior towards you is going through their own life challenges or feelings of work insecurity.
When you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it’s easier to take the focus off of how you’re feeling or how you’re being treated. It is a psychological trick called reverse psychology where you can subtly encourage better behavior from someone by advocating for them, instead of against them.
6. Celebrate your achievements at work and in life
Sometimes, work conflicts arise because someone is feeling insecure about their work performance. If you are good at your job, arrive on time every day, and try to get along with coworkers, then instead of feeling less than, you should really be celebrating your perseverance and good work ethics despite a bad work culture. When you are celebrating your work achievements, do it quietly and personally to avoid jealous-minded remarks.
Celebrating your work performance is not about showing off, but it is about building your self-esteem by recognizing your worth to the company. It’s okay to remind yourself of how good you are at your job, but it’s not okay to use your talents as a reason to put others down.
7. Take on work challenges
The worst thing anyone can do who is feeling less than, is to not isolate and dwell with those thoughts. Instead of feeling incompetent, take on just a little more work or suggest some improvement to work processes that will make you feel good about yourself and your job knowledge.
The challenges you take on don’t necessarily have to be broadcast. You can quietly and confidently take on an actionable item at work simply to make yourself feel better about yourself, and not to be showcased or rewarded.
8. Dressing for success actually works
Certainly, this tip may be more for office, sales, and retail employees, but dressing for success doesn’t only apply to your wardrobe selections. Factory workers and those that have a casual workplace dress code can certainly get a new haircut, make sure your clothes are clean and pressed, your shoes are in good condition, and maybe even a spritz of cologne can all make you feel better about yourself.
It’s a psychological fact that when you look good, you feel great! How to regain confidence after toxic job? Dressing for success exudes personality and can add to our social status on the job.
9. Practice healthy confrontations
If it seems as if job-related stresses continually affect your self-confidence and you are not able to change jobs or positions, then start practicing healthy confrontations. If the company supports a toxic culture then you need to learn how not to feed into the negativity. Address situations head-on, using “I” statements instead of “You” statements. It certainly isn’t wrong to speak up for yourself, but how you do it can lead to confrontations that can eventually lead to workplace isolation and low self-esteem.
According to On LinkedIn, “Three in five workers said work-related stress caused them to have a lack of interest, motivation and energy at work. A total of 36% had cognitive weariness, 32% emotional exhaustion and 44% physical fatigue—a 38% jump from 2019.” Since most of us do not have the option of working from home, we may need to use these strategies to overcome the problems when an employee says, “my job has destroyed my confidence”.
And finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if feelings of low self-confidence are starting to negatively affect your work with absenteeism, tardiness, or lowered job performance. Today, the stigma of talk therapy, group counseling, or one-on-one psychiatric therapy has been replaced by people who openly admit to needing mental health or emotional therapy.
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