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Welcome to another edition of the #AskDavidson column, where Davidson Abishegam, the author of “8 Vital Skills to Succeed at the Workplace – The Raw Truth to Stay Ahead of the Pack”, tackles work-related questions posed by Neue readers.

Do you need some career advice?

Are you facing some difficulties in the workplace?

Feel free to send your questions over to Davidson by clicking here.

Dear Davidson,

What are the 3 signs that I am working in a “toxic” workplace environment?

Is there anything I can do to make it more “bearable”?

– Yogi BearDear Yogi Bear,

Stress is a very common component of any job. After all, there will be times when you will face various challenges such as meeting tight deadlines and overcoming work pressures.

It can also be considered as a “positive force” making our brain work faster, which in turn improves one’s creativity and can sometimes help us achieve “impossible” things.

However, there is a difference between having normal stress and working in a “toxic” workplace, the latter having not so pleasant consequences.

The following are 3 signs that will help you distinguish if you are indeed working in a “toxic” workplace. I’ve also included some tips on how to avoid being “trapped” and unhappy while at work.

1. Mental and physical sickness

There is a belief that all illnesses are caused by negative emotions and thoughts that put our bodies under emotional pressure and weaken our immune system.

Whether it’s true or not, ask yourself these questions:

(i) Are you excited about your work when you get up in the morning?

(ii) Are you looking forward to accomplishing your job tasks?

(iii ) Do you wish this workday was over already?

(iv) Do you wish you never had to do what you do every day?

If you and the people who work with answered ‘Yes’ to the last two questions, you might indeed be in a toxic workplace.

Stress makes our bodies respond in negative ways – sweating palms, fast heartbeat, tiredness, feeling of burnout, extreme weight loss or gain.

Another red flag that you are working in a toxic workplace would be if any of the following applies to you – prone to falling ill and frequently taking days off.

2. Conflicts and negative atmosphere

Do you or many of your colleagues get easily irritated? Are there many subjective disagreements, gossiping and office rumours? Do you hear negative conversations in the office and no one is ever smiling? 

If yes, it means there is no friendships at your workplace, no trust and very poor communication. 

In a “healthy” workplace, however, you hardly get frustrated with doing your job. In fact, chances are you know exactly what to do and how because you were given proper guidance and feedback.

Another sign that you are indeed in a “healthy” workplace is that you feel very much accomplished because you were given the necessary recognition. Another positive sign would be if you feel supported whenever the management takes a genuine interest in what you do and gets you involved with constructive discussions.

3. High turnover

If you notice a high turnover rate in your company or department, take that as a blaring sign of a “toxic” workplace.

As soon as people figure out that their jobs bring nothing but dysfunction, degradation and sickness, they start looking for alternatives.

Thus they are actively looking for other jobs and leave when they find a better one.

Now, how do we make it more “bearable”?

There are some strategies you can develop to “survive” in your current workplace and feel a little bit better for the time being.

(i) Find something you enjoy doing after work

This might help you think about your after-work activity even while you are doing your job. This will give you a sense of excitement and give you that nudge to help keep you moving forward.

Basically, you need to mix in some positive thoughts in your work routine. Oh! And be sure to relieve your stress after a long workday.

Perhaps you could discover a new hobby, sign up for a new language course or group training. It could be anything!

(ii) Create and develop friendships

Try to find people who think or feel the same way you do. Be sure to communicate with them more often. And do support and watch each other’s backs.(iii) Prepare your exit plan

There is always a choice, and there is always an exit.

If you keep in mind that if things get really bad, you have other options, and knowing what to do, will make you feel much more secure and calm.

Search for other offers, don’t restrain yourself with what you used to do, think of what you want to do and what you can learn, it’s never too late.

I wish you all the best and thanks for reading! I look forward to next week’s segment of #AskDavidson!


– Davidson

You can meet Davidson in Brunei

Great news! Davidson will be coming to Brunei to conduct a workshop on “Professional Business Writing” on October 7 to 8. Click here to download the PDF to register.

He’ll be holding another workshop on “Vital Skills for the Administrative Assistant” on October 9-10. Click here to download the PDF to register.

Both workshops will take place at the Radisson Hotel.

And if you’re interested in getting a copy of “8 Vital Skills to Succeed at the Workplace”, you can do so do at the Souvenir Shop of Radisson Hotel in Brunei and Nolly Bookstore at the Departure Hall of Brunei International Airport. The book retails for $20.

(Photo: Lance Thoo/Neue)

Davidson is a certified professional trainer, business coach and management consultant.

Driven by passion, he is an engaging and versatile presenter with over 20 years of experience in the training industry. Over the course of his career, he has trained over 1,000 companies comprising start-ups, SMEs, MNCs, government agencies and others all over Southeast Asia.

Charismatic and witty, Dave has spent years perfecting his training modules to ensure easy understanding and practical learning takes place in his workshops. His key areas of guidance include essential business skills i.e. Effective Communication Skills, Professional Writing Skills, Customer Service, Handling Difficult Customers, Presentation Skills, Leadership Skills, and many more.

Dave has discovered that in order to develop better leadership and organisational cultures, a corporate culture evolution is required. His psychological based programmes are designed specifically to identify areas that will help organisations generate greater efficiency of human capital. His training methods and tools have inspired companies to re-evaluate their people management policies.

Dave is also the founder and CEO of KCOM Academy, a platform for professional and personal development courses. KCOM Academy is an extension of Dave’s firm belief that the success of a company lies in the success of its people.

As an avid musician, Dave often includes music as a motivational factor in his training sessions. Choice of music is often based on the participants preference and the topics being covered, adding an element of fun into his sessions.