Thanks to Monica Gomez for her guest blog. A brief bio is below. – Amy
Most of us prefer to spend time with positive people rather than spend time with negative people. Happiness is contagious, and we feel better overall when surrounded by positive people. Even if you know that you prefer to be around positive people, you may not realize that being around those who are negative actually has a negative impact on your life. Here are six ways that being around negative people can hurt your performance at work.
Increasing Your Burden
If you’re one of the many people who prefer to be around positive people, you probably carry this preference into your work life. If you need help with a project or think a task is better accomplished as a team, you probably seek out positive people to work with. Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably also subconsciously avoiding the negative people. This means that if there are a large number of negative people in your work group, you’re likely taking on too much work yourself simply to avoid working with them.
Making Things Personal
Negative people are often negative in multiple areas of their lives. If they’re unhappy with their boss, they’re probably unhappy with several other aspects of their job. This unhappiness may well be projected onto you at some point. Whether it’s trashing your ideas, ridiculing the outcome of one of your projects, or something less subtle, it will be hard to feel like the negativity isn’t a direct attack on you. At that point, you may begin to feel bad or to have bad feelings about the other person. The end result will be that the negative energy begins to take hold of you and your performance may drop as a result.
Stifle Your Creativity
Being creative involves taking on the risk that you will be rejected. Whether you’re discussing ideas for how to handle office mail or the design of an advertisement, making a creative suggestion exposes you to the chance that someone will say no. Normally this is fine, but negative people often have the habit of simply being negative without acknowledging when the ideas are moving in the right direction. If you don’t filter them out, you may find yourself unwilling or unable to propose new ideas in the future.
Make You Dread Going to Work
Most people dislike at least some part of their job. But they usually find something that makes them want to go to work each day, like the fact that they can leave early, or enjoy the paycheck. When you’re surrounded by people who like to complain about everything, it’s not easy to stay focused on that one thing that keeps you going, and it’s definitely harder to do your best work when you start thinking about how much you hate your job.
Harm Your Personal Life
No matter what you think about your job, you probably enjoy the fact that you get to go home and forget about it each night. After all, you left everything at work and there’s nothing you can do until the next day. When you come home with negative feelings though, you may project them onto your loved ones. This often creates a conflict that you will regret. Plus, you’ll harbor those feelings into the next day as you’re trying to get work done.
Demotivation from Supervisors
Negative supervisors can have the biggest impact on your performance. As an example, in the healthcare industry, workers are under a lot of stress. These stressed out healthcare workers know how hard it is to work under a negative supervising physician while they’re trying to stay cheerful to help their patients feel better. The bottom line is that the captain steers the ship and that negative feelings from the top work their way down and inhibit performance.
It isn’t easy to remove the influence of negative coworkers on your performance. The first step is to identify the negative people and determine what their negative behaviors are. At that point, you can find easy ways to remove their influence. You can:
- Talk to your co-worker or supervisor about the issue in a positive way framed as how you can do your job better.
- Control conversations with the person so they don’t go down negative paths.
- Limit your interaction with the person.
- Brainstorm with your boss about what changes you can make.
If these short-term tactics aren’t affective then you may want to consider higher-level tactics like changing roles at work or engaging Human Resources for help. Hopefully it won’t come to that because just being aware of negative behaviors gives you control over how it affects you.
Monica Gomez is a freelance career, health, and travel writer. She likes to inspire people to do their best whether it’s at work or in their personal lives.
Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
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