How to Cope with Terrible Bosses and Painful Endings Like Redundancy, Quitting or Being Let Go Of

June 2, 2024

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Have you ever had to deal with a “bad” boss, a challenging work culture or felt like you’re not sure if you’re in the right place to work anymore? 


This thinking is something that a lot of us struggle with (past me included).


When you’re in a toxic work environment, we often feel like we can fix the situation on our own if only we could do more. In reality this usually doesn’t work and we end up leaving or being let go which we can take very personally because our identity is tied up in our career.


Not only is it draining when you’re stuck in an environment that doesn’t work for you, but company culture impacts our mental health, can result in physical pain and memory problems to name a few.


There are some things that you can do to take care of yourself if you’re not in a position to leave right away.


In this week’s episode of The Aligned Achiever Podcast, I’m sharing why it’s so important that we talk about terrible bosses and toxic workplace culture and 4 things that are in your control in these situations, as well as how you can handle a painful ending to a job.

In this Episode We Explore:

  • The impacts a toxic work culture can have your health
  • Signs of a toxic workplace to look out for
  • 4 things in your control to cope with being in a toxic work culture or having a terrible boss
  • 4 steps to handling a painful ending at work like a redundancy or quitting



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Hello and welcome to The Aligned Achiever podcast. I’m your host Siobhan Barnes and diving in to this week’s topic, which is all to do with how to cope with terrible bosses, toxic workplace culture and painful endings, like redundancy, quitting or being let go off.

This topic is something that I have been coaching on a lot recently. It’s something that I have also experienced and is a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart, because I think it’s not spoken about quite enough. So often, we are struggling on our own thinking like we’re doing something wrong, and that we can fix the situation if we only just did more or changed ourselves to fit into circumstances that don’t always work for us.

And so today, I wanted to really specifically call out this topic of having a difficult boss, you know, being in a workplace culture that isn’t necessarily right, or you know, what happens when you decide to leave, or you’re made redundant because we so often have our identity tied up into our careers. And we can take things super, super personally.

So this podcast episode applies to you on an individual level, if you’re someone who’s grappling with this in your current life and career at the moment, or even if you have a leadership role, and you’re thinking about members of your team, or you’re in HR, and you’re looking at the kind of collective culture and processes in place that facilitate performance in the workplace. Many of my clients have experienced bad situations like a bad boss and toxic workplace culture. And that has led to perhaps an unforeseen redundancy that lead to quit or actually being let go of, and it’s something that all of us face in our careers. When it happens, though, we can take it very personally. And we can make it mean that we’ve done something wrong, or we’re not good at what we do. But the statistics alone tell us that we’re really not alone in this.

According to a Randstad article from 2023. It looked at understanding and preventing toxic workplace cultures and it shared a study where there was a survey of millennial and Gen X workers in us. And it found that 74% and 79% of employees respectively from the US had encountered toxic workplace situations in their jobs. Meanwhile, in the UK, 70% of the 1000 workers surveyed reported experiencing harmful toxicity in their workplaces.

So the numbers are that three quarters of the population, you know, up to three quarters experienced this. So if you are going through this, please know that you’re not alone. And when you are subjected to a difficult boss or a toxic workplace culture, then it can be really easy to see and connect the dots as to why people want to leave, according to an article by people

By the way, I’m going to link all of these articles in the show notes over at So you can go check this out in more detail. But according to this article, more than two and five employees have left a job because of a bad manager, according to a poll, and experts warn of the abundantly clear cost of poor management.

There was a study conducted by vizier of over 2100 UK employees, and they found that 43% of workers have left a job at some point in their career because of their manager. The poll also found that more than half like 53% of those considering leaving their job say that they were looking to change roles because of their manager.

So this topic is really, really important because so many of us are facing this, which begs the question, well, how do I cope? How do I deal with a toxic boss and a toxic workplace culture? Because sometimes truth be told, you can’t necessarily just quit, right? You might have responsibilities, you might have a mortgage to pay, you might need that paycheck, and that’s perfectly okay. But there are things that you can do within your control, to try and mitigate and make best of the situation.

But I just want to call speak to how important this is. Because you might be listening to me right now and saying, You know what, things aren’t that bad. That’s all right. But what I wanted to share with you is just a little bit about what can happen when we let this go too far. When we cope with a lot more than is tolerable because it it can cause changes to our well being right we can impact our mental health when we’re in places that aren’t right for us and that we can continually ruminate, we might experience insomnia, we might encounter physical pains and discomfort or a change in appetite or just a general sense of dread. This feeling of being drained or exhausted or problems with memory and Tolerance and agitation.

So if I’ve spoken to this and you’ve gone hmm, there’s something going on here, just pay attention, because I want to make sure that you’re well taken care of and that you don’t let things get to a breaking point before you take action. So let’s talk about this. How do you cope specifically with you know, a difficult boss or a toxic workplace environment?

So firstly, let’s just speak to some of the signs first as to what you might be experiencing when you are in a toxic workplace environment.

It might look like you having chronic stress that leads you to dread going into work every day, it might be a feeling of you being completely overworked. It might actually involve bullying from co workers or management. This one comes up surprisingly often in my coaching sessions. So if that’s happening to you do reach out if you need support.

It can also look like being impacted by or being contributor to office gossip, or supervisors like your boss taking out your stress on you unfairly. It can look like unclear workplace goals and vague company values or just like a poor organization and communication between co workers can also look like a lack of transparency in the workplace, high turnover, maybe you’re unclear on your role within the company, and you’re not sure what you’re doing.

And there’s job insecurity because somebody else is trying to take your staff and somebody else is taking tea trying to take the other and you’re wondering, do you have a job role at the end of the day, it can also look like one way communication and passive listening, top down decision making regardless of what’s actually going on on the ground conflict that’s negative and unproductive, maybe a lack of feedback, you don’t get any input from your boss, they just let it go, or too much focus on company output at whatever cost.

Of course, it also includes any harassment discrimination or abuse micromanagement, low employee morale, or lack of appreciation and acknowledgement and an inability to move upwards. So I’ve rattled those off very quickly, but just have a think about whether that actually applies to you, in which case, there’s something that you can do, because what happens is, if we don’t address this, it can become a primary motivation behind resignation in all career fields.

And from what I see from my clients, like on the ground coaching them one on one personally on getting support around this is that people want opportunities for a Healthier Work Environment, the clients that I speak to are very willing to do good work to put in the extra hours, if they feel like it’s appreciated, it’s honoured, they have a boss where they can learn and grow. And they understand that there’s a reason for what they’re doing.

So if you are dealing with a terrible boss or a toxic workplace culture, I’m going to give you four things that you can do to navigate this situation.

And I’ll talk a little bit more afterwards about what you can do if you know that the writing’s on the wall, and you can’t stay where you are longer term.

So the first things first is prioritize your mental health, prioritize things that light you up and give you energy, engage in activities that recharge you. Now, that might sound really superficial, but I go on about this time and time again on the podcast, because so many clients come to me when they’re burnt out, and they are struggling. So you need to do something to prioritize your mental health. This is important because we’re not talking about time management.

When you’re in a toxic workplace culture, we’re really focusing on your energy and energy management. And the analogy I like to give us like a battery, you need to recharge your battery so that you have the energy, the mental headspace, the emotional capacity and the emotional dexterity to handle the tough stuff that comes your way. And by the way, if you’re curious about what I mean by emotional dexterity, then come on over to check out Episode 107, where I talk about how emotional dexterity drives personal and organizational growth, because I think that is a skill that we need to foster, as well as we’re progressing on our careers. But that’s a little bit of a digression there.

So that’s really, really important to have the emotional dexterity to look after your mental health. And that might look like different things. So in the last episode, episode 108 of the podcast, I spoke to Steph Poelman, who’s the founder of Pherform, and she spoke about the importance of exercise and strength training. So maybe that’s something that you need. If you check out that episode, I’ll link to that in the show notes.

For me personally, I know that when I lift weights and I go to the gym, it helps me with my mental health. So it is going for a walk in nature. Baking the weekly baking item that I bake for my kids snacks for the week, these things bring me a sense of energy. For you, it might look like setting a boundary of not working past a certain hour or something completely different.

On a side note, personally as well. I’ve been using a new product called Magic Mind to help me boost my energy And to help me stay emotionally nimble. It’s kind of like the baseline for my own self care. And it helps with my mental health. So it can be hard when you’re stressed and overwhelmed and all over the shop to have the energy to handle everything. And drinking Magic Mind has quickly become something that helps me stay energized throughout the day.

As you all know, I’m a coach. I’m a trainer facilitator, I’m a mom of three, and it helps me stay sharp and focused when I need it most. It gives me mental energy and focus and it’s the drink I need. For my mind, I always feel way better in the mornings, and I’m happier throughout the day when I’ve had it. It’s made of all natural ingredients sourced from the best suppliers. So there’s like no sugar, it’s not free, vegan, keto, Paleo friendly, all the healthy things. And as I’ve been reducing my coffee intake, I’ve been loving the substitute with my with magic mind, it’s got like ingredients like matcha, which is nature’s extended release caffeine. And caffeine from nature takes longer to release and helps to reduce stress. So that’s really great.

It’s got things like Lion’s Mane mushrooms, another nootropic and adaptogen, which helps to reduce anxiety and inflammation and supports cognition. So there’s a whole heap of things that it does. So I wanted to share that with you as like a simple hack, because I’m happy to share it here and encourage you to give it a try. If you’re needing an energy boost, it’s one of the few companies that actually offers a 100% money back guarantee, no questions asked. So if you’re curious, you want a little support in the interim, there’s really no risk in trying it out. And if you don’t like it, they’ll refund you in like three to four hours.

So if you’d like to give it a try, then you can check it out over at my link which is at That’s S I O B H A N with the discount code SIOBHAN20 all caps S I O B H A N two zero. And if you use that discount code, you’ll get 56% of your subscription for the next 10 days with my code. And I would suggest getting the 30 pack because it’s the best value. And you can actually see the best results when you look at it over that time. So that’s a quick little hack. But think about for you what other things you would do to prioritize your self care and prioritize your mental health.

The second thing I recommend if you are dealing with a difficult boss or a toxic workplace culture is to begin to note down interactions that you’re having. Right?

You can note down what’s happening, you can start to highlight patterns, you can start to notice themes. Sometimes, of course, there’s some personal responsibility in terms of things that we might be able to better do. So for many of my clients, I put my hand up myself included, you know, people pleasing, wanting to say yes, wanting to do a good job, that’s kind of the default. And so when we can see the pattern, and obviously feel the repercussions, right, the anxiety, the dreading Monday, then we can look and say, Hey, hang on a minute, I think I need to work on boundaries here and like, make sure I’m prioritizing myself, right, you can start to see patterns, and you get to see the bigger picture.

But equally, you might start to see some patterns with somebody else. And some things that perhaps need to be called out on or at least raised with another person within the organization. If you’re dealing with somebody difficult, somebody who says one thing says they’ve done one thing but doesn’t follow through. It’s really important that you keep things documented.

So if you’ve had a conversation, recap it on an email, so it’s in black and white, so that the outline that was discussed, what they agreed is in the email, and you know, who knows when you’ll need it, but at least it’s in black and white, at least it’s documented, at least it shows that you have done your work. And, you know, it’s unfortunately I don’t, we don’t want to waste our time. But it’s evidence to show that you have shown up in integrity.

So documenting everything from a covering your butt perspective, and from looking for patterns perspective can be really, really helpful. And doing this might sound like extra work. But it is a way to create agency and like feeling like you have some semblance of control of the situation and that you’re doing something because when you feel helpless, that’s the worst place because then we can spiral into low self esteem, low confidence and making ourselves wrong, which is something I obviously want to help you avoid.

The third thing you can do if you’re in a toxic workplace culture or have a difficult boss, is to seek allies, find support amongst your colleagues, who are the people who are on your side.

It can feel very isolating and very lonely when you are on your own. But having colleagues that you can speak to or having them looped into what’s happening can be super, super helpful. One from a community and mental health perspective. But number two, you know you’re speaking to somebody else about what’s happening. So that Should there ever in future be a investigation is the wrong word but a, an inquiry into a certain person or a certain boss, you know, other people knowing what’s going on will help them see that, okay, this isn’t just your word against theirs, other people have heard it too, right? So seeking allies is important.

Fourth thing that’s very important is seek professional help.

Don’t hesitate to seek counseling, therapy, mentoring or coaching to navigate tough situations, it’s really paramount that you get the right support. And if you feel like this is something that’s really causing you a lot of harm, you feel like you are on that scale towards like depression and serious anxiety, please, please, please see a therapist or medical practitioner and make sure you’re getting the support that you need. Nothing has gone wrong, if you need support, there are resources there for a reason, and you are worthy of support.

And you know, this is a rough patch, and we all need people to help us get through it. Remember, this, this costs us something, right, your mental health, your time, your energy, that is an asset, that’s a valuable resource. And if it’s robbing you of your lifeforce energy, then you know, it’s not just the paycheck that’s coming in that you’ve got to think about, it’s also the depletion on the other side. So those are four things that you can do if you have a difficult boss, or you’re dealing with a toxic workplace culture.

And after doing these things, you might be saying, You know what, Shiv I don’t even know if I’m in the right place, I can see how things are costing me a lot. And I think I need to start thinking about my plan B or my exit strategy. If that is you, that’s okay. Admitting that you might need an exit strategy is perfectly okay. Sometimes quitting is the right reason. Sometimes it’s avoidance. And it’s it’s running out, right. And I have another podcast episode, which talks about how to know whether you should stay or you should go. So I’ll link to that in the show notes as well, because I dive deeper into that.

But just know that if you need support to get unstuck, figure out what you might want to do next, and start to build your kind of exit strategy or your next steps. Please reach out to me I work with a handful of clients one on one to support them on this through a four stage process where we support you to get:

Number one, your intuitive clarity.

Number two, get your mindset onboard.

Number three, map out a strategy.

And number four, keep you accountable with execution.

So if that’s something you would be curious to learn more about and how I can personally support you just go ahead and book a Get Unstuck call with me. Again, I’ll pop a link over in the show notes over at Siobhan That’s the number 109. And you can book a call with me completely non obligatory, we have a chat, I tell you where I think your next steps are if I think I can support you or tell you if I think you’re better served to look somewhere else. I’ll tell you that as well. I just don’t want you to be stuck. So please sing out if you need help.

Okay, so we’ve spoken about a toxic boss, and we’ve spoken about toxic workplace culture.

Now let’s go on to how do you handle a painful ending, like redundancy or quitting or being let go of.

First things first is just know that endings are normal. In life in nature, it’s a continual cycle of birth and rebirth, beginnings and endings. We go through so many seasons, we go through so many phases and transitions. And if, for example, you’ve gone through a redundancy, that’s okay. All right. It’s really okay. So often we take things super personally, we think that oh my gosh, I got made redundant because I’m no good or I’m not good enough. And, look, sometimes, again, we have to do the personal reflection to see if there’s something that we did. But equally, businesses are going through difficult times at the moment.

You know, the economy ain’t great at the moment, and businesses are trying to stay afloat, make sure that they can keep the lights on, keep the doors open, and that sometimes requires a restructure and a reorganization. And sometimes that means a transition of your role. And it really is just business. And obviously that’s not nice to hear. But I hope that when I say that that helps you relieve any ties that you have to your own personal sense of self worth and value because who you are, is inherently enough.

You are a valuable human being.

Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or you are a barista in a coffee shop or a nanny helping a family look after their children. Any role like everyone is inherently worthy and valuable. You are enough as you are are. And oftentimes when we get made redundant or we quit, or we have to change, we feel like we’re no longer enough.

One of the things I often see with my clients is like, well, what will I say when I am introduced to so and so at a dinner party, or I’ve still got this panel discussion that I’ve been invited to sit on, but I’m not at this organization anymore? What am I going to do what or how am I going to introduce myself? The truth is, your skills, your expertise, who you are as a person, they are there because of your experience, no matter where you are, in this given point in time, you’re going to be evolving, you’re going to be growing, you’re gonna go into your next role or your next iteration of life. And that’s okay. So just give yourself permission to be where you are.

The next thing is to just allow yourself to grieve.

It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel angry and disappointed. Give yourself permission to process these emotions. Sometimes, if we quit, we can feel like there’s sadness there. And it can feel like a death, you know, it can feel like an ending. And even though you’ve made the choice, you might feel sad. And that can be a confusing, but that’s also okay. That’s personally why I use a feminine embodiment coaching in my sessions, because these emotions, when you create space for them, you let yourself feel the uncomfortable.

And oftentimes clients joke with me, they’re like, Oh, it didn’t cry in this session. It’s fine. You can cry, you can do whatever, you know. But when you create that space, time and time again, these are the three words I hear my clients say, when they let themselves grieve, feel all the feels, I feel lighter. That was uncomfortable, but I feel better. And I feel relieved, I don’t have to hold on to it anymore. So let yourself grieve. Let yourself feel those emotions, cry, dance to a certain song, go out for a run and let out that anger, whatever it is that you works for you go and do that.

The next thing you can do is reflect and learn.

So when you have been made redundant, or you’re you’ve quit, or you know, you’ve been let go of take a moment to ask yourself, what did you learn from that experience? What did you learn in that role in that team? Being that that leader being led by that team, that that leader? How can you grow from this experience? Because here’s the thing, so often, we repeat the same patterns in new job roles.

We think that, Oh, I’ll change jobs, and suddenly everything’s going to change. Somehow, we attract the same situations until we’ve learned to resolve it. So what can you learn and how can you grow from this experience, then another aspect is staying connected, keep in touch with those colleagues, keep in touch with those people from your previous organizations.

Again, it’s not just you know, you are not valuable just because you have X title at Y company, you are valuable because you are your name, who you are with your expertise. So rather than seeing yourself as an employee and organization, think of yourself as a subject matter expert, whatever you might be, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re a accountant, whether you’re a consultant, or a lawyer like you that that that aspect of you is the part that you want to stay connected with people on. And also, it’s not just you as your web persona. It’s all of you as a human being as well. And the final thing I’ll say, as on this point is like just remember that with this ending, it’s a new beginning. quote that song, right?

Every new beginning comes from some other endings. And right, I can’t remember who sang that. But I really love that song. I think it’s closing time by somebody. You’ll have to message me if you can remember it. But yeah, every ending is a new beginning. So embrace this new opportunity that’s ahead of you with an open heart. You know, for me, full transparency.

When I was working in corporate I had an experience with a really difficult colleague, and at the time, he sorry, they were the impetus in part of the impetus in me, considering leaving my role wasn’t all them, but they were certainly a contributing factor. And now years and years later, decades later, I reflect on that situation. And at the time, that was difficult was uncomfortable. But I’m so glad for that experience, because I learned so much. And that’s what it is. It’s just a growth experience.

Okay, I’m going to bring this episode to a wrap.

So thank you for tuning in. Today, we’ve spoken about how to cope with terrible box bosses, toxic workplace culture, painful endings, like redundancy, quitting and being let go of, we’ve spoken about why this topic is so important. Looking at the statistics of how many people feel like they’re in toxic workplaces, how many actually leave because of bad bosses, and how this impacts mental health. We’ve looked at four ways that you can begin to cope with a terrible boss and a toxic workplace culture. and a few suggestions on how to handle a painful ending, like redundancy, quitting or being let go of.

The only final thing I haven’t touched upon is what you can do to be a culture maker in your organization.

And when I say culture maker, I’m talking about what you can do to turn the culture around it your small piece of the pie should you be inclined to do so. And for many people, that doesn’t really become an option, because you can get really burned out very bitter, resentful, and it just feels like it’s totally the wrong culture. But maybe you’re in a workplace where, you know, some departments are great, some departments aren’t so wonderful, and you’re just happened to be in that department, which isn’t so great.

So if you want to be a culture maker and turn things around, and you see a lot of good, just know that you can do that no matter what your role, right. And if you feel called to that, then trust that reason. Trust that you can be a leader in that. You don’t have to have the job title, but that is something that is possible for you. Find those allies, see what works and other organizations make suggestions and take it from there.

All right. Thank you so much for tuning in.

Please remember, you are here for a reason. beyond merely hustling, grinding and merely surviving, you matter.



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