Ask Ciiku: I Work in a Toxic Office

Hi Ciiku,

Do you have any tips on dealing with office bullies, office politics and hard to please bosses?


Hi JM,

Dealing with office politics, temperamental bosses and bullies is something I have experience in. It is so terrible having to deal with such people yet you spend most of your waking hours with them.I always say that you cannot escape office politics. I think it is a part of all work environments in varying degrees of toxicity. As long as you have to be around people, there will always be politics and you can’t miss a terrible person in the mix.

Some suggestions for you would be:

  • Avoid these people – When I had a snake for a boss, I kept our interactions to a minimum. We only communicated on work related matters, on email and phone whenever possible and even then, I kept it brief. I also never got involved in discussions on the going ons in the office. I know depending on the type of office environment and the job you do it may be hard to avoid but if possible, please distance yourself from the disturbances that comes with talking with some people in the office..
  • Inform Human Resources – I had a boss who would text me unnecessary texts out of office hours about work (he was a bully) and I mentioned it to HR. I was told to settle it with him and so yes, HR may not be helpful as in my case but when I quit that job and they asked me for reasons, they had the info because I had told them about it.  Document all instances of bullying such that when you bring this up, you have proof.
  • Have discussions on expectation – If it seems that your boss isn’t happy with the work output, it may be of benefit to have a meeting to discuss expectation. Mention that you would wish to know what they expect from you so you can carry out your duties effectively.
  • Look for another job – Again, I know this isn’t easy and especially with how the economy is at the moment, but it never hurts to have your feelers out there. I always say that when you wait until a certain “a-ha” moment, you are assuming your resume will still be attractive. Don’t wait.

I hope some of this is helpful to you JM. Being in a toxic work environment is quite stressful and can cause strain on anyone. I therefore hope this is something that becomes better for you.




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