4 Books to Help You Thrive Despite a Dysfunctional Workplace
4 Books to Help You Thrive Despite a Dysfunctional Workplace

We spend half of our waking hours at work, yet we rarely stop to consider how work affects us mentally or emotionally. 

For many people, the office can feel like a second home. You probably spend more time with your team than you do your family or friends. 

If you’re not happy with your work environment, that dissatisfaction can carry over into your other parts of your life, damaging your self-esteem, confidence, and long-term success.

Toxic workplaces also can have an impact on your health: the increased stress of working in a dysfunctional office can lead to job burnout, fatigue, listlessness, and depression.

No workplace is perfect and dysfunction comes in varying degrees. For example, you may really like your job, but find yourself leading an incredibly chaotic team. You may also find that when there’s ongoing conflict in your company that’s beyond your control. 

Dysfunction is like annoying background noise. It’s always there-subtly impacting you. While it may not be influencing your mood to the point where you’re thinking about moving on (yet), it’s important to manage the situation before it does get out of control.

Here are four books that can help you cope with everything from a bad boss to office drama, and all types of dysfunction in between: 

1. The No A**hole Rule by Robert Sutton

There’s no question that arrogant jerks in the workplace are toxic and demoralizing. In this book, Sutton explains how to buffer yourself against bullies who demean, criticize, and sap the energy of others. You know who they are: the people who toss dirty looks around during meetings or stir up arguments over email for no good reason.

This book provides terrific strategies for coping with co-workers who are prone to stirring up office drama, teaching you how to set up healthy boundaries that will keep you happy and productive.

2. Am I the Only Sane One Working Here? 101 Solutions for Surviving Office Insanity by Albert J. Bernstein, PhD

While you can’t control the office drama around you, you can prevent it from getting you down. This book serves up a no-nonsense, practical approach for dealing with difficult people, from slackers to chronic excuse-makers. You’ll learn how to apply step-by-step strategies to deal with annoying co-workers in real life–and you may even recognize where and how you’ve gone wrong in the past.

3. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

At one time or another, we’ve all wished we had a blueprint for approaching high-stakes, emotional office scenarios such as inappropriate comments or unmet expectations. This book provides is that framework. You’ll learn how to implement a structured, repeatable process for communicating during tense situations, like confronting an employee who is underperforming.

4. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

I recommend this book to every single one of my coaching clients. It’ll help you learn how to stop taking feedback so personally and learn to manage your emotional reactions more effectively. Whether you’re leading a team or need to manage up, Stone and Heen reveal how to take (and deliver) criticism with grace and courage.