Workplace Toxicity and its Poisonous Effects on Relationships
In the 1980’s there was a popular family sitcom, Married with Children. The primary characters were Al Bundy and Peggy Bundy. Everyday, Al went to work at a shoe store and everyday Al came home complaining about work. He was negative and sarcastic. His negativity was met by his wife, with sarcasm and the occasional belittling jab.
While this might have only been a television show, I’ve noticed that with many of my clients there seems to be a pattern of work place stress spilling over into a couple’s home life. Workplace stress can affect non-work relationships because it diminishes our ability to handle additional conflicts. In essence, when you’re tired, your negotiating skills are at their worst.
In general, humans have a finite capacity for dealing with stress. Where that limit lies varies from person to person and is dependent upon many individual factors. However, despite where that limit lies, the fact remains that each of us has a limit on what we can handle. Workplace demands and stresses begin to deplete our capacity for what we can handle, by the time we get home from work, we often find ourselves at a breaking point.
Often times, making a few changes can circumvent many problems. Two strategies for keeping workplace toxicity from having an effect on your relationships include awareness of the potential for the toxicity as well as working on more positive ways to alleviate the effects of the stress.
Awareness of the potential for toxicity can be as simple as reminding yourself that you’re in a bad mood. When you get home and find yourself starting to feel tension and annoyance ask yourself “would I be this annoyed, if my day had gone better, or if I were well rested”. Talking things over your head to assess its importance is a key step in determining whether or not you’re seeing the picture clearly. Perhaps things aren’t what they seem and the situation or annoyance would appear to be minor if you weren’t so exhausted from a long day at work.
Another strategy for improving your capacity to deal with things when you arrive home is to find creative ways to alleviate some of your tension and stress before you arrive home. Many people find that stopping at the gym to exercise before coming home seems to improve their overall mood. If exercise is out of the question, perhaps listening to soothing relaxation tapes on the drive home may help relieve your tension.
If you’re finding that no matter what you do, the toxicity of your workplace is poisoning your relationship with those at home, perhaps through work with a trained therapist you can find a way to improve your situation.