Staying Positive in a Negative Environment
by Julie Fuimano, Executive Coach
One of the most difficult things to do as leaders
is stay positive when everyone else around us
is negative. It's not easy to maintain a positive
attitude and not be drained or consumed by the
negativity that surrounds you. But as a leader,
that's exactly what you must do. You have the
opportunity to be the beacon of light for others
around you. You can demonstrate and teach by
your actions and responses how to behave in
an appropriate, positive and professional manner.
It's easy to be positive in a positive environment.
It is when the environment is emotionally draining
and negative that you are challenged to step
up to the plate and behave differently. By doing
so, you make a difference - creating a positive
impact that sends ripples throughout the workplace
Positive energy is just as contagious as negative
energy. Sometimes, people are simply stuck in
a negative habit or pattern of behavior. If
the environment is really caustic, then it's
been that way for a long time. This is what
people are used to; it's familiar to them and
may be all they know. Also, the fact that the
environment has been negative for this long
and no one has done anything to change it will
have fostered an attitude that it's acceptable.
It will take time and effort on your part,
as well as a commitment to do something different,
in order to create sustainable change. You must
be willing to identify and stop tolerating what's
not working, do the right thing even if it's
unpopular at first, and then teach others to
do the same.
Here are five things you can do to be the positive
force in your workplace.
1) Observe yourself in action
In what ways are you contributing to the negativity
around you? Are you listening to gossip or participating
in conversations where the focus is to denigrate,
diminish or criticize people or things? If the
conversation feels bad, it's probably negative.
Stop being negative! Stop saying or doing anything
that is negative.
It all starts with you. Language matters. Everything
you say has an impact and when you say something
negative, not only does it dishonor the person
you're speaking about and the person you're
speaking with, it makes you feel bad even if
you don't realize it. Putting someone else down
is disrespectful of them and it disrespects
you. Learn to respect people's humanity and
their right to be themselves. Complaining without
end does not focus on creating solutions; rather
its impact is only to perpetuate and magnify
the problem wasting everyone's precious time
2. Recognize negativity when it occurs around
Sometimes, you can feel your energy being
drained by words being spoken. These feelings
are your inner messengers. They are a form of
intelligence similar to a tap on the shoulder
letting you know something is not right. How
do you feel? What is happening? What behavior
is being displayed? If you can identify what
is happening, then you can make good choices
about handling it. The first step is awareness.
3. Speak up!
Tell the other person how you feel. Use the
words, "This doesn't work for me."
It's non-judgmental and it's about you, not
them. People often don't realize they are being
negative. Explain to the person, in a gentle
and caring way, that they are being negative.
"Do you realize you are frequently complaining?"
Sometimes, just bringing it to their attention
will be enough to shift the conversation. Over
time, people will learn what they can and cannot
talk about with you, and in most cases they
will respect you boundaries. But if you say
nothing - your silence gives them permission
4. Make your conversations constructive
Ensure each conversation is positive, meaningful
and beneficial. What's the point or purpose
of the conversation? Is it to hurt or to help?
And at the end of the conversation, what would
you like to have happen? Is there an action
step to take? Constructive conversations feel
good. They are empowering and have the effect
of leaving people a little better off from having
participated in them. Become the kind of person
who takes your time seriously and who takes
your words seriously!
5. Frequently praise others!
It's amazing what a few words of praise and
acknowledgement can do to make people feel good.
You want people to feel encouraged after being
in your presence. You want to be the kind of
person people gravitate to because they know
they will be uplifted by you, not put down,
drained or discouraged.
Learning how to be positive as you navigate
through life is an important lesson in leadership.
And no matter what is going on around you, you
control your inner environment and how you choose
to respond to external events and situations.
It's your responsibility to become the kind
of person you enjoy being and with whom others
enjoy being around.
It takes a true leader to walk a path different
from the crowd. So when others are negative,
stretch your boldness muscles and be positive
in spite of what others do or think. It's the
only way to create a ripple of change. And we
know that from small beginnings come great things.
If each of us does our part, then slowly but
surely, we will make a difference our work environment
and the community at large.
Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN
is The Coach with Nurturing Your Success, Inc.,
working with people who are frustrated, stressed
and unhappy and who are ready to give up the
overwhelm for the time, peace and happiness
they desire. Clients report increased clarity
and focus, confidence, and control in situations.
They say no to what they don't want - without
guilt - and yes to what they do; they receive
more respect, have more time for themselves,
and have more fun. Sound good to you? Julie
works by phone and is currently accepting new
clients! Call today
(610) 277-2726 or write to Julie@nurturingyoursuccess.com
to explore how coaching would work for you or
your organization. Julie is a popular speaker,
world renown writer and author of "The Journey
Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and
Acceptance," the manual for personal leadership-available
in bookstores. Sign up for her e-newsletter