How to Stay Positive in a Toxic Work Environment

How to Stay Positive in a Toxic Work Environment

Today’s healthcare environment can produce many emotions that challenge even the most experienced nurse or health care worker. So, how can we develop strategies aimed at responding versus reacting? What role does impulsivity play in keeping our emotions in check and our responses professional? 

The role of Impulsivity

Impulsivity, reactivity, resistance to change, and tantrums are things that come with the territory when working in busy and emotionally-charged environments. In this type of environment we can expect more reactive behaviors when feeling stressed, fatigued, overworked or hungry. What we need to keep in mind is the importance of developing self awareness or self-control to understand the connection between feelings and reaction; and develop awareness skills that help to modulate behavior. 

The connection between multiple demands, frustration and work chaos

When frustrations rise due to interruption after interruption while struggling to provide quality patient care within designated timeframes, reactive responses may ensue.

For example, using an abrasive tone, yelling or even non-verbal gestures that indicate negativity. These types of reactions are considered unacceptable and unprofessional, especially in front of patients, significant others or coworkers. Additionally, uncontrolled reactions can negatively affect coworkers, patient satisfaction, and may even endanger patient outcomes or create a toxic workplace culture. 

So, how can we more effectively process our emotions and respond in effective ways versus react in ineffective ways?

Paying attention to how emotions connect with responding versus reacting

During our busy schedules, we may fail to see how emotional intelligence affects our behavior, including reactions to situations. For example, a quick verbal outburst versus carefully chosen words aimed at demonstrating caring and compassion. 

Carefully chosen words embellish the opportunity to share the importance of being emotionally proactive rather being reactive. Both ways of responding share fundamental similarities related to human interactions and associated outcomes. Reflecting on these types of experiences, including the power of personal or professional experiences, can be a catalyst for improving interactions and outcomes.