Surviving in bad work environment

By Janene Gibbons
April 23, 2009

If you have a job, the goal is to have a work environment where you feel comfortable and are able to be productive. This is the goal but not always the reality.

Shannon, junior elementary education major at West Chester University, spoke about her particular technique for dealing with difficult customers that she has used in her waitressing jobs. She asked that her name not be used.

She said that she tries to survive by “being as fake as possible to the point where I am convincing myself that I am sane or happy.”

Her general advice for avoiding internal conflicts between managers and co-workers is to “stay away from the drug addicts.”

She combats stressful occurrences by talking or venting to herself. Once she is done venting, She turns to her friends who understand her and where she is coming from.

Marc Zubricky, senior information systems major, said it would be hard to stay at a place where your boss is mean and the client relations are stressful.

“The fact that the economy is this bad may scare you into not looking [for another job]. But I feel you should look at other places, because having a job that is miserable to go to is not what you want. But you can’t just straight up quit because some people have been looking for jobs for months,” Zubricky said.

Dr. John Cordes, assistant professor of communication, teaches a course called Career Prep and Job Search.

Cordes said that when the working environment is bad due to personality conflicts with a boss or clients, “what I would do more than anything else is focus on that person’s best characteristics, look for other positions within the company and don’t take it personally.”

“Keep a positive ‘can do’ attitude and don’t let yourself question your own personality,” Cordes said.

Mary Jean Gibbons, former assistant teacher now happy free lancer, said that when it comes to dealing with a specific problem that you are facing with a boss, for example them not appreciating the work you are doing, you should set boundaries.

“If you have a boss that demands too much of you, claim some space and tell them that you’re doing all that you can,” Gibbons said.

Another suggestion she had was to get away for a little bit at lunch and take a walk. Gibbons also stressed that it always helps to have a sense of humor or to confide in a kindred spirit.

If you have an annoying boss, Jill Smith, senior English and communication major, said, “You just have to suck it up. You learn to bite your tongue and only say things when it is necessary.”

Al Navarra, an account manager for Chrysler Financial, has separate approaches for internal and external problems at work.

Externally, “If there is a specific problem with a client or customer I address it head on. I skillfully raise questions to find what the source of the issue is.” Internally, “I try to bond with the people I like at work, communicate with them and have fun,” Navarra said.

Brian Rauch uses the serenity prayer to calm his nerves and keep him grounded.

“Don’t try to change them, this is how it is, this is how it is going to be. Don’t expect something that probably isn’t going to happen,” Rauch said.

Senior biotechnology major Matt Leitch said that if he was having a hard time getting along with his boss or co-workers he would think about the things he has to look forward to after work.

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Janene Gibbons

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