Staying positive around negative people

Energy vampires, mood bombers, confidence wreckers; they all have one thing in common. They’re chronically negative and a toxic influence on workplace team dynamics. Sadly, people with negative mind-sets often set the tone for the entire team. They’re the ones who speak up first and loudest. They’re the ones who find problems for every solution. And they’re the ones who always seem to have the last word. In a perfect world, you’d be able to avoid dealing with chronically negative people. In reality, though, you’re likely to be exposed to them on a daily basis. If you work in customer service, for example, your job will involve handling complaints and dealing with angry or upset people. Or it could simply be that you’re sitting next to a cynical and negative colleague. Or perhaps your boss is burnt out and exhausted and it’s obvious to everyone.

In environments like this, it can be easy to catch negative thinking patterns. Indeed, negativity seems to be a highly contagious condition. This is because the human brain is primed to pick up on danger signals. Being highly attuned to emotions such as fear, anxiety, or threat used to be a survival mechanism. These days, though, it can make workers vulnerable to the moods of those around them. So what can you do to negativity-proof your workday? Here are four simple but highly effective strategies.


Negativity proofing strategy 1: Challenge negative language patterns

It pays to remember that you’re unconsciously absorbing every word spoken around you. This means that if negative conversations are occurring on a regular basis, you’ll be taking in negative messages. Prevent this from happening by moving away from negative conversations or consciously challenging the meaning you make of those discussions.


Negativity proofing strategy 2: Utilise strengths in everyday work

When people are drawing on their natural skills and abilities, in other words their strengths, they are naturally shifted into a positive mood. The more that your work can be aligned with your strengths, the more likely it is you will experience positive emotions.


Negativity proofing strategy 3: Learn to regulate your own emotions

Emotion regulation is the ability to track and shift your emotional states. People with high levels of emotional intelligence are adept at regulating their own emotions and influencing the emotions of other people. This is why organisations that recruit for high levels of emotional intelligence tend to have less problems with negativity in the workforce.


Negativity proofing strategy 4: Counteract negative emotions

Mindfulness practice enables you to observe your own thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. This boosts your ability to remain resilient, even when you’re surrounded by negative conversation or negative behaviour. Likewise, using relaxation techniques every day significantly boosts your resilience. If you want to stay positive no matter what the people around you are feeling, add these two techniques to your repertoire.

About the author of these tips

Eleanor teaches smart professionals to build their social and emotional intelligence. Since 1994, she has been teaching talented people – like you- how to think, communicate and behave in ways that build success. Eleanor holds qualifications in Social Anthropology, Applied Psychology, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming.