9 Signs Your Job Is Toxic Without You Realizing It


Having a toxic job can completely drain you. Many of us spend so much of our lives at work, but we don't always realize the lasting impact our work environment can have on us. And while there are some workplaces that are obviously toxic, a lot of office toxicity can fall into an ambiguous area. But just because it's not obvious at first, doesn't mean it's OK. "However, in many gray areas, you simply have to trust your judgment and gut intuition and communicate that you are uncomfortable if you cannot avoid a work situation or workplace relationship (e.g., it's not a one-off client interaction) that is toxic or abusive or simply overly negative or passive aggressive in nature," Georgene Huang, co-founder of Fairygodboss, tells Bustle.

So if you feel like something isn't right at your job, think further. Maybe you haven't even realized how bad it is. Maybe everyone else in the office is going along with it. But, if you are reflective, you should be able to tell when something's really wrong. There are a lot of ways your job might be toxic without you seeing it right away, so it's important that you know the signs and are honest with yourself about what's going on. Because sometimes, it really pays off to trust your gut.


You Get Really Into The Gossip

Gossip isn't always innocent. It can drag you in and wear on you, and, when it's bad enough, make your job really toxic. Try to steer clear. "Take the high road and don’t get involved or encourage this talk," relationship expert, author, and founder of the Ask April relationship advice forum, April Masini, tells Bustle. "Depending on your personal style, either be silent and walk away or call the person on their negativity and suggest a better approach is to appreciate the assets of others and what they have to offer the company (and the world)."

It may start out innocently, but gossip can have a hugely negative effect.


Your Boss Is Pushy

Sure, your boss should be asking a lot from you. But, before you know it, that can go into bullying territory. “Toxic bosses are often untamed bullies,” Laura MacLeod, HR expert and founder of From The Inside Out Project, tells Bustle. “Bullies are rarely confronted, so confronting your boss in a straightforward way may be the answer.” But if confrontation doesn't work, don't be scared to make a change.

“If you are honestly traumatized in any way by a toxic boss and have tried to work it out — and nothing has changed — absolutely get a new job," MacLeod says.


You're Encouraged To Compare Yourself To Others

A little bit of workplace competition can be inevitable, but if you're actively pitted against each other that's not OK. "Never, ever compare yourself to others, it's a one way ticket to feeling absolutely horrid," Sallee Poinsette-Nash, Business and Brand Troubleshooter tells Bustle. "When this happens, which it inevitably will, simply thank your mind for the unhelpful comparison and return to the work you need to do to move yourself, at your pace, in the direction of your aspirations." If your job doesn't let you just focus on yourself, that's not healthy.


Your Job Is Affecting Your Sex Life

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Sometimes, you can only tell that something's off because of the impact it's having on other areas. And work stress and your sex life can be linked. "Stress at work can decrease sex drive because stress sends out cortisol into our [bodies], which is a hormone that can suppress sex hormones," Kelly Connell, sexuality educator and counselor and sex educator at, tells Bustle. If you can't focus or get yourself interested in sex, think long and hard about your job.


Your Gut Tells You Something Is Off

If you're unhappy at work, don't ignore that. Even if you don't want to admit it, it may just be that the job isn't a healthy one for you. "Allow your inner voice to speak to you at least as loudly as the voices of those around you," Life coach Erica McCurdy. "When something feels 'off' at work, trust your instincts. You may not immediately recognize the cause of your discomfort, but trust yourself enough to know when a situation warrants further investigation and be courageous enough to stand firm when pressed to take actions that are uncomfortable.”


You've Got Problems With A Coworker

There's an annoying coworker and then there's a truly toxic one — and that can make your job miserable. "In general, to spot a toxic coworker in your workspace, look for the telltale signs: It’s all about them, they take credit for the work of others, and they’re interested in your company as long as you have something to offer them," Masini tells Bustle.


Your Boundaries Aren't Respected

You're allowed to have boundaries at your job. Even if they ask a lot of you, you're allowed to have some things that you're not willing to do. "Communicate your limits clearly," Peter Yang, the co-founder of the résumé company Resume Go, tells Bustle. "For example, if you don't want your colleagues to call you on the weekends or in the evenings when you're home already, tell them this explicitly and specify the hours during which you will be available."

If your boundaries are reasonable and they're still being ignored, then something's wrong.


You Don't Get Credit For Your Work

Part of what makes a job rewarding is getting credit for it. "A toxic work environment is any that makes you feel uncomfortable, unappreciated, or undervalued," certified professional coach Lori Scherwin tells Bustle. If you're never getting any positive feedback, that's a problem.


You're Ready To Burn Out

If you're feeling stressed about going into the office, unfocused, anxious, or like you're running against a wall, make sure it isn't the job that's a problem. If it is, then deal with it quickly. "The longer you let these symptoms continue without heeding their call and making changes to your schedule/life, the greater your chances of burnout, and eventually, possibly, depression or other mental illness," clinical psychologist, speaker, and founder of AZ Postpartum Wellness Coalition Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D., tells Bustle. "This is why it’s so important to pay attention to these signs and symptoms, to take them seriously, and to seek help in overcoming them as needed." You don't need to live like that.

Jobs can be hard and stressful at times — even a lot of the time— without it being a cause for concern. But sometimes, they can become really toxic without you realizing. So know the signs and be honest with yourself, because you deserve a healthy work environment.