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Book Review:
Toxic Work

By Matthew Arnold Stern

Originally published in the Founder's District Speakers Bureau Newsletter.

I recently left a difficult work situation brought about by a controlling boss and a highly restrictive working environment. So, I read with great interest Toxic Work by Barbara Bailey Reinhold. The book describes how workplaces can become unbearable, how emotional stress from these environments can make you physically ill, and what you can do to make these situations more livable.

Bad working environments really do cause bad health. As Reinhold writes, "[W]eve known for more than twenty years that the greatest predictor of heart attacks in people under fifty more potent even than smoking, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, or diabetes is job dissatisfaction." These wounds may be self-inflicted. We might suffer from what she calls Recurrent Career Adversity Syndrome (RCAS), a series of bad emotional workplace habits such as blowing problems out of proportion or blaming others that put us in the same miserable work situations over and over again.

Reinhold provides a number of solutions to remedy these problems, including techniques for dealing with difficult bosses and coworkers (in a chapter beautifully titled "Dancing with Dinosaurs and Dragons") to quizzes and advice to help us identify and correct our own self-defeating behaviors. She illustrates these issues and techniques with examples from people she has counseled. She shows us how we can create a working life where we feel empowered and in control, and we dont always need to leave our existing job to do so.

If you find yourself in a miserable job, read Toxic Work. This book gives you the tools you need to make your professional life happier, healthier, and more successful.

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