Other people suck.
Just kidding…but sometimes it sure can feel that way!
Dealing with people who complain or are negative can be draining.
Both negativity and positivity are contagious.
In our recent survey, Gloria asked if we could share some tips for managing negative energies at work.
Here are ten tips for managing negative energies at work:
1. Focus on Yourself and What’s in Your Control.
Remember who you are and what’s important to you. Why are you here? (in this job, this situation, this room…what’s your deeper motivation?) There’s something that matters to you. Maybe it’s having an impact with your work, or providing for your family. Get clear on your values and what matters to you, and make a decision to not let other people’s negativity derail you. Stay committed to your truth and your priorities.
Focus on what you can control. Only things that can be initiated by you or are in your control are worth your time and attention. Use the five powerful questions in step ten below anytime you feel stuck.
2. Exit Stage Left.
Refuse to get sucked into other people’s drama. If people around you are being negative or gossiping, remove yourself from the conversation. Leave the room if necessary. If you’re worried about offending people, try saying; “I need to go to the bathroom / make a call / get a glass of water,” and simply excuse yourself. Leave the room or leave the conversation. When that’s not possible, redirect the conversation to more positive topics or simply stay quiet and go to your happy place inside. (meditation helps with this)
3. Be a Gossip Free Zone.
Don’t gossip. Gossip lets people know you’re open for drama. It can be tempting to talk about others, especially as a way to build connection through a common enemy. But in the end, gossip is a form of drama. Make a commitment to live a gossip free life, and stop yourself whenever you say anything negative about others. If people are gossiping around you, leave the conversation or say; “I’ve made a commitment to only say positive things about others…so I’m just gonna be quiet!”
4. They Go Low, You Go High.
When in doubt, remember Michelle Obama’s wonderful words; “When they go low, we go high.” Be the better person, don’t stoop to other people’s level if they’re trying to drag you down.
Remember you’re bigger than this. Life is bigger than this. When you’re on your deathbed, this situation won’t matter at all. Reframe by refocusing on the bigger picture and being the bigger person.
5. Acknowledge Your Triggers.
If you get sucked into other people’s drama, can’t stay neutral or calm, it means you’re triggered in some way. Something they’re doing is a match for a pain point in you. Otherwise it wouldn’t bother you to this degree.
Get curious by asking yourself; “Hmm, what does this remind me of? When have I felt this way before?”
Do the work to clear your own triggers, and much of the drama around you will simply dissolve.
6. Let it Go. Don’t Fester.
Scream into a pillow, write in your journal or write a horrible letter to the person that you’ll never share (write this at home! You don’t want it found at the office). Do what you need to get that crappy energy out of your system. One study found that people who journaled for three days, twenty minutes a day, reported significantly less depression scores.
There are a few meditations and energy healing techniques to let go of other people’s negative energy. Join this 15 Day Meditation Challenge to try it.
One quick and effective way to let go is to use deep belly breathing. Whenever you find yourself in a negative situation, take a few deep breaths all the way into your belly to calm yourself down. Inhale deeply to the count of five, and exhale to the count of eight. Having a longer exhale will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and help calm you down.
7. The Power of Ritual.
Another helpful trick is to have a small ritual or daily habit to let go of other people’s negative energy. One client of mine who worked at a fast growth tech start-up liked visualizing letting go of the day’s stress every time he got in the elevator to leave work. As the elevator went down, he’d imagine that he was releasing all the stress from his day. Then he’d listen to upbeat music as he left the elevator to get in a really happy mood.
Washing your hands or lighting a candle first thing when you get home from work is another simple, effective ritual. It sounds silly, but give it a shot and see for yourself. As you feel the warm water and bubbles of soap on your hands, visualize or imagine that you’re washing off other people’s negative energy and the stress from your day. Do this before entering your private space with those you love. This will help you avoid bringing that negative energy into your home.
8. Practice Self-Compassion and Forgiveness.
When you’re frustrated by the behavior of others, instead of judging them or beating yourself up for judging them, practice self-compassion. Start by saying to yourself; “This is hard. Other people have struggled with this too. Let me be kind to myself in this moment.”
Then, imagine what you’d say to a friend who was dealing with a similar situation. Say those same words to yourself.
You can also practice forgiveness towards the person whose behavior impacted you negatively. Try imagining them as a young child, innocent and happy. See if you can have compassion for that version of them.
Remember, inside every bully, jerk or a**hole is a wounded little girl or boy who didn’t get what they needed. When someone feels whole and complete, they don’t feel the need to harm others. People lash out or are negative to others only because they’re in pain themselves. Think back on a time when you did or said something you’re not proud of; were you hurting inside when you did it?
Put yourself in their shoes by thinking; “This person, just like me, wants to be successful. This person, just like me, is trying to prove their worthiness. This person, just like me, wants to feel loved and cared for. This person, just like me, wants to be respected. This person, just like me, has experienced pain in their life and sometimes takes it out on others in an unproductive way. This person, just like me, deserves to feel love and belonging….”
9. Surround Yourself with Happy People.
Here’s a brutal, loving truth; if you constantly find yourself surrounded by miserable people, maybe you’re the common denominator! This is not a fun truth to acknowledge, but naming it is the first step to shifting it.
If this feels true to you, don’t beat yourself up. It’s ok. You can make a new choice at any moment and begin surrounding yourself with happy people. Pay attention to the culture of an organization and look for red flags. Are the people genuinely happy to be there?
Think about what you need to be happy, and choose an organization that’s a good fit (if you’re a parent who wants to leave by 4pm to see your kid’s soccer game, don’t work at a start-up run by single twenty year olds who stay at the office until 8pm…unless they seem empathetic. State your needs up front and see how they react.)
One billionaire’s #1 piece of hiring advice is to hire happy people. Choose teams, bosses and companies with happy people. Make hiring happy people and working for happy people a priority. It really is that simple.
10. Don’t be a Victim. Use These Five Powerful Questions.
Anytime you feel impacted by someone else’s negativity, try asking yourself the following five questions;
Hmmm, how am I contributing to this situation?
Hmmm, what is it I really want (that’s in my control and can be initiated by me)?
What am I willing to do to create that?
What is the gift or opportunity in this situation? How is this making me a better person?
What is this contrast showing me about myself and my desires? If this situation is showing me what I don’t want, how do I want to choose differently next time?
These questions will help you stop feeling like a victim and start to feel empowered to choose your own reality.
Now that you’ve read these ten tips for dealing with negative colleagues, we’d love to hear from you!
Leave a comment below and let us know, how do you handle other people’s negative energy?!
Some of the best tools to manage other people’s negative energy involve practicing self-compassion, forgiveness and deep breathing…all of which we’ll be doing in the 15 Day Meditation Challenge!
(You’re in luck)
It’s not too late to join.
So…what are you waiting for?!
15 Day Meditation Challenge starts this week. Get on board now!
May you create work and a life you love,
P.S. Enjoyed these tips? Share this blog with your friends & family HERE.
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