If there’s one thing the video game industry is known for, it’s fostering a terrible work environment. From the extreme working conditions at studios like Netherrealm to the hostile, sexist, favoritism-driven culture at Rockstar Games, gaming in many ways serves as a manual for how not to treat employees. After all, nobody wants to work in a toxic office.
In most organizations, particularly outside game development, that toxicity isn’t quite so overt. It’s a lot subtler. Often, it’s driven by a single bad apple.
So with that in mind, let’s talk about your workplace. Has it been especially hostile and negative recently? Do you feel like you don’t want to be in the office, but can’t quite put your finger on why?
I have some bad news from you. You might be the poison fruit. You might be the one that’s making work worse for everybody.
Here’s how to tell if that is indeed the case – and what you can do if it is.
Excuses, Not Results
First thing’s first, how’s your workplace performance? Have you been slipping lately? Not getting as much done as you should? Failing to meet your commitments and deadlines?
If so, your hackles are probably raised right now. You’re probably already trying to justify your shortcomings, both to yourself and your colleagues. Stop.
You aren’t getting less done because of a bothersome co-worker. You aren’t constantly late for meetings and events because of traffic. You didn’t miss that deadline because of computer problems.
Apologize. Hold yourself accountable for your failings. Acknowledge your mistakes. But don’t try to shift the blame onto something external. You are the master of your own destiny.
Now, it’s worth mentioning here that there’s a difference between an excuse and an explanation. Being unable to finish a project because your mental health is failing is different from not getting anything done because you’re too busy browsing Reddit.
Everything Annoys You
What was Kevin thinking, sending out that frivolous email? Doesn’t he know your inbox is full enough already?
How could they give Christine more responsibility than you? You’ve been with the company way longer!
Does Jon ever shut up? All he does is talk about things nobody cares about!
Everyone has an annoying coworker or two. But if you’re constantly aggravated by your colleagues, even over little things that shouldn’t matter to you, that’s an issue. Take a deep breath. Take a step back.
Ask yourself if the thing that’s got you so flustered will matter tomorrow.
What about a week from now? A month? A year? Five years? Ten?
We’ve all had toxic thoughts like the ones above. But most of us are capable of approaching them like adults. Either we politely bring it up with the people involved, or we shrug it off and move on with our lives.
You’re Never Happy
Nothing is ever good enough for you.
You’re envious of a co-worker for receiving a promotion they’ve been working towards for years. You spend most of your day stewing over slights, both real and imagined. Even when something good happens, it’s still not enough to satisfy you.
This is quite possibly the most toxic mindset you can maintain. Everything becomes about you. You end up being emotionally draining to interact with as you gradually become more bitter, resentful, and self-absorbed.
Shift your focus outwards. Instead of being pessimistic and self-obsessed, train yourself to always see the silver lining. More importantly, practice mindfulness – practice being aware of your surroundings, of the people and things you spend your day with.
In other words, teach yourself to live in the now, focused on the good things that surround you. It won’t be easy. But the results will be more than worth it.
Fixing Your Bad Attitude
Very few people actively try to make their workplace toxic. No one wants to be that person who everyone dreads dealing with. If, after reading this piece, you’ve realized you are, don’t stress too much.
Just apologize and strive to be better in the future.