It seems many of you have also experienced workplace trauma from the many comments and messages I’ve gotten from my earlier posts on this topic.

It’s really nice to know that we’re not alone in this which is why I shared my story.

A toxic work environment or workplace PTSD (these terms can be used interchangeably) affects employees long after the experience happens. I remember the negative things that were said and done to me as if it was yesterday.

My worst situation was a female boss who pushed me out of a job because she was threatened by me.

There’s the saying, “You don’t leave a job, you leave a bad boss,” for a reason.

She told me there was only room for one of us. Suddenly nothing I did was good enough. I was left out of meetings. My projects were taken away. She invited others to lunch and drinks and made sure I knew I was not included. She spoke negatively about me to colleagues and lawyers. She undermined me whenever she could.

I loved my job but I found myself having anxiety every day and it manifested itself with stomach issues.

It was untenable. I had to leave. My mental and physical health were at stake.

Here’s what I learned. She was a bully who was threatened by me. Something about me made her feel insecure about herself. No matter what I was doing it was going to not be enough because she did not want me there.

Sometimes women can be each other’s worst enemies and all the talk about women supporting women is great but doesn’t always happen if you were viewed as a threat to another woman.

Women who target other women do so because they feel threatened and insecure. Their biggest fear is another woman will take their position. Instead of working with them, they work against them viewing them as their competition.

Everyone deserves to work in a safe, respectful, healthy and encouraging environment with a manager and colleagues that have their best interests at heart.

Many victimized employees never share what they’re going through for fear of burning bridges or jeopardizing their future. In turn, this perpetuates, and in most cases, worsens the bullying.

It’s critical to find an organization that promotes wellness and mental health. When looking for a healthy work environment consider:

– respect
– integrity
– growth
– passion
– healthy competition
– drive
– compassion
– flexibility
– second chances

How do you avoid getting into a toxic work environment? Ask a lot of questions during the interview process and closely observe your future boss and colleagues. Don’t rush the hiring process.

It’s sort of like when you start dating someone and everything is great in the honeymoon. But then the cracks start to show. This is why I never understand how people can fall in love immediately and get married within a few months. Just like with a job you have to really get to know someone. And people are on their best behavior in the beginning.

And if you find yourself in an environment that’s not healthy, leave. We are currently living in the Great Resignation – the hottest job market in years. You don’t have to put up with treatment like this. Ever.

If there’s one positive thing you can take from a negative experience like this it is to create a work environment that is the total opposite of what happened to you in the future. It made me a better leader and colleague.

How has living through a toxic work environment changed you?

Here’s a video with more on toxic workplaces.