Why Neurodivergent Professionals Stay at Toxic Workplaces

Veronica Yao

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by Veronica Yao

Did you know that neurodivergent professionals are more likely to stay in a toxic work environment?

Neurodivergent folks often have a hard time untethering themselves from workplaces that aren’t benefitting them — or in many cases, actively harming their mental health and general well-being.

Many neurodivergent professionals report feeling trapped or stuck in their place of work, for a variety of reasons. Below, we cover the top 5 reasons why they tend to stay at toxic workplaces.

#1. They’re paralyzed by the prospect of job hunting. 

Job hunting is a huge undertaking, so task paralysis and executive dysfunction can become a huge barrier to neurodivergent professionals.  The anticipated overwhelm can be strong enough to convince them that the job hunt isn’t worth the effort, or that things at their current work might improve.

#2. They feel obligated to support their coworkers.

In a toxic work environment, it’s common for coworkers to bond over their shared struggles, whether it’s through office gossip or a good old venting session.  

Neurodivergent folks who tend to be people pleasers may feel an extra strong sense of duty towards their comrades. They may find it difficult to justify leaving their job and letting their peers or manager down.  

#3. They’re terrified of rejection.

Rejection sensitive dysphoria is a common trait among neurodivergents. Those with RSD will have strong emotional reactions to rejection or criticism, real or perceived. Job hunting is full of unanswered applications, ghosting recruiters, and general disappointment. A nightmare for many neurodivergent professionals!

#4. They’ve convinced themselves they’re the problem.

Growing up in a neurotypical world, we are told over and over that there’s something wrong with how we function. A lot of neurodivergent professionals unfortunately convince themselves that they are the source of the problem, and that things wouldn’t get better if their situation changes.

#5. They don’t know what to do next.

You can’t escape a bad workplace if you don’t have a place to go. But a lot of neurodivergent professionals get hung up on what their next steps should be. Maybe you’re looking to find a new career that suits your neurodivergent identity and the way your brain works. Or maybe you’re stuck deciding between a few career paths, and don’t know which way to go.

(This is something I help my clients with all the time, by the way!)

So, did any of this resonate with you? If you’re feeling trapped in your career and want to make a change for the better, let’s talk! As a career coach, I specialize in helping neurodivergent professionals navigate neurotypical workplaces and achieve their career goals.

Are you neurodivergent and burnt out at work?

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