Thoughts and such like.....
Last week I had a call from a real estate sales person wondering if I had considered selling my home. I was having trouble understanding him, and had asked him to repeat himself when the phone line went dead. A few minutes later the phone rang again, this time a different sales person came on and when I mentioned I had been talking with someone else he proceeded to tell me what a poor worker his colleague was, and how much difficulty they were having with him - most peculiar, but more importantly for that firm, not the kind of discussion he should have been having with me! When speaking with customers, I don't think I'm off by saying complaints of this sort should be kept inside the organization and certainly one employee should not be criticizing another to a potential customer. I quickly ended the call and mulled it over.
The conversation got me thinking about negative people and the effect they can have on each of us, on our organizations and on our World. It's easy to get caught up in a negative conversation, we've all done it at sometime, however being around negative people is toxic for us and can slowly trickle into our life, colouring our view of the world and our place within it. When we allow negativity to direct our actions and behaviour it means that we haven't set boundaries.
Setting boundaries and our own interaction with a negative person means we set limits on our contact with them and the rub off effect on us. Keeping our interactions short and to the point, not getting caught up in their rhetoric can also help avoid getting pulled into their negativity. I read somewhere about thinking of a negative person in a similar way to someone who smokes: would you spend endless time with the smoker, inhaling the air around or would you limit your time with them?
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage calls the negative pattern of thinking 'The Tetris Effect', and suggests it's 'a metaphor for the way our brains dictate the way we see the world around us'. He talks about getting stuck in a pattern of only seeing the negative, and missing the positives. Okay, so it's not so simple, however Achor goes onto say 'Constantly scanning the world for the negative comes with a great cost. It undercuts our creativity, raises our stress levels, and lowers our motivation and ability to accomplish goals'. I would add that hanging out with people who constantly look on the negative, also affects our ability to look at the positive side of things, for example, the next time you spend time with someone who has this type of personality, try and scan yourself once you return home - what's your mood like? how do you feel?
Achor talks of the 'positive' and negative' Tetris Effect - if we only focus on one area then that's all our brains will see. He states and research confirms that we can train our brains. So if we begin to revise our thinking and start looking for the positives, we can 'profit from three of the most important tools available to us: happiness, gratitude, and optimism. The effect of all three is to grow in positivity and happiness, a side effect of which is greater work performance and achievement of goals! So, even in times of adversity it pays to be an optimist!
Setting boundaries about how we want to be treated, is a part of self care, also establishes our identity and supports mental health. If you set boundaries, you can control chaos in your life, remember you aren't responsible for how another person feels, only for yourself. If you find that you need to set boundaries, do so clearly and succinctly and, stick to it, don't waver for anyone! This can be hard, especially if the other person is not used to them, but be persistent - this is for you and only you can do it.
If you must or have to interact with someone who's always complaining, for every negative thing they bring up, ask for a positive solution, this really does get them to stop and think - don't fall into the the habit of giving them a solution, but make them work for their own. It'll really get them to view their situation from a different angle.
Remember you only have one life to live, you are in charge of how you live it, so set those boundaries and give up living with the negativity and toxic behaviour of others. Live well, take up with new positive friends, live the life that's left to you with gratitude, positivity, and happiness!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog