Meanwhile, back at the office:
As I sat there and listened to the person beside me speak, I realized there were very few encouraging words coming out of her mouth. It was dragging me down, and she wasn't even speaking to me. My mind wandered. I wondered if she had ever really accomplished much in her life. I wondered about her children, and felt somewhat sorry for them. How could one person always be so negative about so many things in their life? I eventually quit listening to her and went on about my business.
Before I continue, allow me to clarify one thing. Encouragement does not mean the absence of constructive criticism. Sometimes someone may tell us "no." Or they attempt to advise us on something we should do, or should not do and we become defensive or even angry. We think they should be more encouraging. Shouldn't they be telling us, "yes", or "it's okay"? As a child, when your mom tells you "no, don't touch the stove", she's telling you that so you don't get hurt. Not all negative comments or cautionary words are truly negative. Constructive or cautionary criticism is something we should invite. I suspect too many of us just become angry or defensive when approached with either. We shouldn't.
Back to the office...
Do you work with someone who is continually negative? Do they do their level best to convince you that there's nothing good coming from your job but the paycheck you receive each week? Of course, even that isn't good enough is it? Does it seem nothing ever goes right in their day, career, or life? Me too.
Negativity is all around us on a daily basis. We have choices on how to handle it and the people who tend to emit this energy sapping mindset.
- Ignore It - I take this route sometimes. It's usually the path of least resistance. The only problem with simply ignoring it, is sometimes we pretend to ignore it while surrounding ourselves with it. Instead of demanding a better attitude from those around us, or encouraging a different atmosphere, we sit idly by and allow the negativity to fester until it cannot be ignored.
- Change the Subject - Depending on the person you are talking to, this can sometimes be very effective. Anytime the conversation starts heading toward negative emotions, shift gears. Ask a question that you know the person will be able to talk about in a positive light. Shift the conversation to something more positive. Just don't allow the negative emotions to take hold. You guide the conversation and stay on topic.
- Confront the Person - If the negative person who is dragging you down is your good friend or a relative, you might be able to pull this one off. Come to them offering assistance. Tell them you're going to make sure they have a good time, see things more positively, or get back on the right track. If the negative person sapping your energy is someone you don't know so well, I wouldn't recommend this route. It would be better to simply lead by your positive example.
- Avoid the Negative Person - This is a move I recommend most of the time. It is the surest way to keep you from wasting your time, energy, and emotions with them. Don't give them an ear. If you do, most will not let go. Avoid those you identify as those who will do their best to drag you down to their level. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. Surround yourself with people who will give you words of encouragement and a little constructive criticism when needed. Surround yourself with people who want to do their absolute best. Be strong enough to avoid the negative person.