This Notebook Cleans Up Toxic Workplaces

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Whether you're in person or remote, you know what it's like to dread starting your workday. Your boss will grind you down, your coworkers will freeze you out, and your daily load will feel both Sisyphean and utterly unrewarding. Toxic workplaces will burn you out worse than a climate change-induced wildfire, but one small habit might be able to counteract some of what makes the job so rough.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida have just published a study about the role of gratitude in the workplace — specifically, what they're calling "gratitude interventions," which are "exercises designed to increase your focus on the positive things in your life." This paper suggests that the simple act of keeping a gratitude journal — noticing and recording things that you're thankful for — can "change your outlook, your approach to work, and the way your coworkers see you."

When study participants kept such a journal for just two weeks, the researchers found measurable decreases in rude, gossiping, and ostracizing behaviors. Not only that, but when managers implemented gratitude journaling on office teams, members tended to behave more respectfully overall. It's a simple practice, and it doesn't have to take a long time, but the payoff seems to be impressive.

Of course, this isn't the solution for a truly unsalvageable dynamic. It's hardly surprising that better work environments improve mental health and thus behavior. Thankfully, it's becoming more and more common to follow best practices for a really toxic job, and that's simply up and quitting when the time is right.