Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Impact of Negative People at Work

We've all had a good laugh at the "Saturday Night Live" skit featuring Debbie Downer. We all can readily identify someone in our lives who always sees the glass half empty, who has nothing good to say and always expects the worst of life.

But sometimes we are affected by people who are less obvious about their bleak view of the world. At work, it may be the co-worker who sighs deeply several times a day, as if the weight of the world is too much. Or, it may be the business partner who spends too much time contemplating why something "can't" work instead of what "can" work.

Not everyone is as obvious as Debbie Downer, but the effect may be the same. These people may drain our energy, sapping our ability to be as creative and focused as we need to be in order to be successful in our careers.

Think about it: Are you letting negative people affect you in such a way you're not doing a job to the best of your ability? Is someone else's bad mood rubbing off on you, robbing you of the things you could be enjoying about your career?

Here are some things to be on the lookout for:

* Blue moods: If you find yourself feeling gloomy when you've been around a certain person, then you know you need to think about how they're affecting you, and why. Is there a way you can change that interaction -- possibly being around them less or finding something that will lighten your mood after dealing with them? Try taking a brief walk, repeating a favorite inspirational quote or just saying hello to the most cheerful person in the office, whose smile may be just what you need.
* Dissect your reaction: Why are you feeling negative after a certain interaction? Is the person rude or whiny? The old adage about you can't control other people's actions, but you can control your reaction to them is often very true. When the other person begins making rude comments, do you take it or say, "I can see you're upset about something, but I want to be spoken to with respect. Now, I'd like to focus on how we can get this project done on time." Or, if the person starts whining about other things, point out that you're on deadline and have to focus on the work. Leave once you've taken care of business.
* Trust your gut. If you see someone frowning, and the body language seems tense (hunched shoulders, crossed arms, unsmiling), then try to avoid dealing with the person until later. You could end up being a convenient punching bag for an issue that has nothing to do with you. If this person always seems in a bad mood, try to schedule an appointed time to speak, so that you don't catch them unaware -- which can often make a negative person even more so.

Of course,everyone has negative thoughts and there are going to be some days that just stink. But the more you can do to keep a good perspective, the more positive your work performance will be and that will always pay off in the long run.


1 comment:

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