Each Friday, we share three topical longreads in our Weekend Reader newsletter. This week, Lion’s Roar associate editor Lindsay Kyte shares Buddhist wisdom for suriving a toxic workplace. Sign up here to receive the Weekend Reader in your inbox.
I’ve found myself working on a project with a toxic manager. (Don’t worry, it’s not here at Lion’s Roar!) This person is aggressive and adversarial, constantly questioning the professionalism of everyone on the team. Every time I get an email from her, I get a tension headache. When I walk in the building, my limbs feel heavy with dread. Her inner circle is cold and aloof to me. It makes my belly hurt.
I sure wish I was one of those people who could just slough it off, saying to myself, It’s her problem. Not mine. I am a pro, doing my work well, and treating people with respect and kindness. But, you know, I can’t just shrug it off. Instead, I am the kind of person who takes it on myself when others don’t like me, thinking I must deserve it.
I obviously can’t change her, and I can’t abandon the project. So what can I do? So far, all I’ve come up with is drawing pictures of her as a monster and eating numerous tubs of Haagen-Dazs. Luckily, there are people in the world who can go beyond ice-cream and think a little more spaciously. First, Lama Tsultrim Allione offers a practice for working with demons — inner ones and outer ones (like this manager). In doing this practice, I realize that I have to be there for myself in the situation, working with everything that is arising. Once I have taken care of myself, I can look for ways to be helpful to others on my team. Michael Carroll offers some wisdom for creating a healthy work environment. And, last, using Lodro Rinzler’s Buddhist slogans for the office, maybe I can help create a space where the poison doesn’t take root so strongly in the first place. It’s a lofty goal, but if we pesky humans are trying to change the world for the better, we might as well dream big.
Reading these articles helped my shoulders relax. And it made me grateful, once again, that my day job in the dharma can show me ways to work with other areas of my life, so I don’t end up spending my whole paycheck on macadamia nut brittle ice cream. Although, I can’t lie, ice-cream does help a little bit.
—Lindsay Kyte, associate editor, Lion’s Roar magazine
Lama Tsultrim Allione teaches you an innovative technique to turn your inner demons into friends.
In today’s world, we suffer from record levels of inner and outer struggle. We find ourselves ever more polarized, inwardly and outwardly. We need a new paradigm, a fresh approach to conflict. This strategy of nurturing rather than battling our inner and outer enemies offers a revolutionary path to resolve conflict and leads to psychological integration and inner peace.
There’s a difference between a stressful work environment and a toxic one, says Michael Carroll. Here’s his step-by-step guide to transforming a toxic workplace.
Cleaning up workplace toxicity is about healing rather than harming, being wise rather than correct, enriching rather than weakening. It’s about cultivating healthy workplace emotions like fulfillment, creativity, humor, and passion, and skillfully eliminating dangerous emotions like insensitivity, betrayal, bullying, and fear.
By practicing the famous mind training slogans, you can bring profound Buddhist wisdom into your day-to-day life. Lodro Rinzler highlights five slogans that are especially helpful at work.
Relax your expectations. If you can do that, then when someone does praise you for your good work, you will likely feel delighted. Pema Chödrön has commented on this slogan, saying, “We can thank others, but we should give up all hope of getting thanked back. Simply keep the door open without expectations.”