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Toxic Culture at Work? Here are a Few Tips

The saying, “It’s who you know,” goes back a long time.” — Ben Kimmel.

New York, NY – Certain workplace problems go unsaid because of who they affect. But there is no denying the corrosive influence of things like nepotism, bullying and favoritism.

There is no denying the unfair favoritism of workers simply because of their relationships or affiliation with family, group leaders, supervisors, foreman or bosses. There is also no denying the presence of bullying in the workplace. Nor can we deny the different social chapters and cliques in our work environments. The question is how do we overcome these kinds of unfair practices, sustain worker morale and  protect ourselves from intimidation and retaliation?

The saying, “It’s who you know,” goes back a long time. There are those who manage to maintain a certain level of professionalism on the job despite the personal connections they may enjoy. There are others, however, who do use their connections unfairly. Unfortunately, situations like corporate bullying, unfair job selections due to nepotism or favoritism and situations of “othering” are very real.

In addition to nepotism, bullying and favoritism, “othering,” — a form of exclusion, based on identities differing from the dominant group — is a practice that can negatively impact workplace motivation and limit career advancement.

So, even with a strong skill set and great work practices, how does one get ahead without connections? Moreover, how does one simply compete in the workplace when nepotism, bullying, favoritism and “othering” exist?

The following bullet points are suggestions that can be helpful to create a better work environment:

  • Be persistent and consistent. Do not allow outside influences to change your performance. 
  • Allow yourself a healthy set of boundaries in your work life.
  • Be professional.
  • Choose carefully, which means be mindful of your circle of support and find appropriate people to discuss your thoughts in the workplace.
  • Avoid slander. Stay away from the gossip mill and the rumor factory.
  • Keep a record of your work accomplishments and successes.
  • Avoid personalizing matters that are beyond your control.
  • Keep your focus and goals clear. 
  • Find personal ways to value your performance. 
  • Learn to create opportunity.

Remember, the culture at work can be seriously problematic. Keep the focus on yourself. Work smart. Work safely. And stay Union strong!

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at

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