Keeping Positive in a Toxic Workplace

Last Updated Dec 7, 2009 2:07 PM EST

With the recession still raging and unemployment hovering around 10%, few of us are in a great position to go find a new job.

Even if we hate the one we are in.

Pat Olsen blogs on Harvard Business Publishing with three tips for remaining professional with a good attitude -- even if what you really want to do is go home and crawl under the covers.

  1. Face the reality head-on. Understand what you're feeling, and that if you show up to work irritated, it affects your performance.
  2. Develop a plan. Be proactive. Brainstorm with trusted friends and even co-workers. Maybe there is a better job for you in your company.
  3. Find (or Accentuate) the positive. List the good points about your job -- top benefits, cool coworkers, short commute. "Listing what you do like about your job will help shift your perception and keep you from feeling so trapped," Olsen writes.
I'll add a fourth: Make the most of the two-thirds of your life you spend away from work. Don't take your unhappy work feelings home with you. Become more involved in your community. Volunteer. Learn a new hobby.

Read Olsen's full post, How To Survive in an Unhappy Workplace. Then come back here to tell us how you survive a crummy boss, boring tasks, overlong hours, a dark and dingy office, three-hour commutes, and all those other things that make your work life hell.

(Toxic image by srgpix, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.