Surviving a toxic encounter at work

There’s a difference between a stressful work environment and a toxic one says Michael Carroll, author of Fearless at Work. Here’s his step-by-step guide to transforming a toxic workplace… (Lion’s Roar, “3 tips for surviving a toxic workplace,” 14 Sept 2015)

This short article gives some tips for creating some space around a bad encounter, but what to do when the shouting is over and our angry co-working has retreated to another part of campus? The story of “he said, I said” can continue to burn like a summer wildfire before it finally dies out. This is where time spent in meditation can bring relief.

As we sit, and the story rages in our mind, we direct our attention to how the story registers in our body as sensation. Where do we feel this encounter? Where do we hold these emotions? We notice that the story, and all of the other stories it unleashes, are just stories, each tied to some set of body sensations. Noticing this we return to the sensations and give them our compassionate loving attention. This is how life is right now. Difficult.

I will attend to this experience, to these sensations. Thoughts are just thoughts, the smoke rising from the fires that burn in my chest, my face, my stomach, my fists. Directing my attention towards the fires in my body, and not the smoke in my mind, I feel my chest loosen. Maybe only for a moment, but there it is. So I sit still, repeating this over and over.

There is an amazing multiplier effect in this work. If we can loosen the story’s grip just a tiny bit, it will bring tremendous relief.