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My dream job has become a nightmare

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  “For the past two years, the law firm where I work as a paralegal has had many problems. Going in every day is depressing, because the hang-dog atmosphere radiates everywhere. My immediate boss is under tremendous pressure and treats his staff badly. His temper creates a great deal of stress. I think it may be time to move on.  However, if you have any suggestions for surviving here, I will try them. This was my dream job, and I would deeply regret leaving.” — Stressed & Depressed  

Marie’s Answer:  Before making any rash decisions, consider two key questions.  First, how permanent is this downturn?  If the adverse circumstances reverse themselves, your dream job may re-emerge from this nightmare.  

Second, could you recreate your ideal job elsewhere?  Appealing positions may exist at other firms, so there’s no harm in exploring your options.

To cope with the current tensions, minimize the time you spend with cranky, complaining colleagues.  The inevitable emotional contagion will only make you feel worse.  Choose more cheerful companions for breaks and lunch.

Focus all your attention on work and try not to be distracted by the negative vibes.  Constantly remind yourself that your boss's grouchy demeanor has nothing to do with you.  

If you do decide to depart, scrutinize prospective employers carefully.  People who desperately flee one toxic workplace sometimes find that they have jumped right into another.


To see if you might be in a toxic environment, check out 13 Signs of a Toxic Workplace.

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