How To Handle Negativity At Work

“Your inner peace, like everything that’s personal to you, is your responsibility. Don’t let anyone or anything outside of you disturb that peace. It’s too precious to be annoyed”.- sundaewrites

 

 

So you show up for work, happy and excited. You open up your email and see three glaring entries.

-from your boss, disappointed with results, urgently demands improvement
-from a colleague, urgent demand for an explanation why something was not —-done or not done right
-from a customer, angry, dissatisfied with your service, urgently demands action

 

Do this email entries change your mood? Oftentimes, yes. Will it affect your good intentions? Well, It shouldn’t.

 

Though we did not assign weight or intensity in the three cases above, we can agree that most of the time, they come with a lot of anger, blame, and loads of negative energy.

 

If you’ve seen that facebook video about people carrying emotional garbage and dumping that to everyone they come in contact with, the cases above are classic examples of it.

 

In this fast-paced world, where most of us are expected to work like machines and process floods of information all at once, the pressure that people get is too much, the stress, intolerable. And oftentimes, pressure and stress get the better of us. We forget the reality that we’re actually dealing with human beings.

 

In such an environment, the fight or flight mode is activated in people’s mind. That’s what causes bosses to shout at subordinates, employees to find someone to blame, clients to harass service providers or the other way around. We obviously want to lift the weight from our shoulders and demand other people to carry it for us. Bluntly, yes, we dump our garbage on to other people.

Photo Credit: Tim Goedhart
Photo Credit: Tim Goedhart

If you are at the receiving end of this relationship, what do you do? Personally, my used-to-be default tendency was to retaliate: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But now, I know better.

 

One of my mentors taught me to change the rules of the game. Not any more to react, but instead, to influence. To change the atmosphere of whatever room I go into.

 

Call it taking the higher ground, changing your normal stance, attitude and intention will do a lot of benefits not just for others but more so for you.

-to give rather than to take
-to help rather than to restrain
-to serve rather than to hurt
-to understand rather than to strike back

 

Recently, I was faced with a blaming game at work, and instead of defending myself or highlighting the other person’s negligence, I thought to myself, “This is not one of the battles I want to spend my energy on”.

 

So what did I do? I changed my stance. I thought about where this person is coming from, what is he going through and what made him say the things he said.

 

I believe that inherently, people are good. So understanding where this person’s anger and blaming are coming from, allowed me to see through him and the situation. Then I asked myself. “How can I help this person”? “How can I best serve him”?

 

So I end up pacifying the guy and we were able to work out a solution to the situation.

 

If only I could replicate this approach every single time, then I’d be someone who becomes a part of the solution instead of a contributor to a problem.

 

Sure, losing your cool is the easy way out. But that comes with a price. While patience and endurance, you get a far more fulfilling reward.

photo credit: Denise Altindas

Your inner peace, like everything that’s personal to you, is your responsibility. Don’t let anyone or anything outside of you disturb that peace. It’s too precious to be annoyed.

 

Question:
Have you encountered someone who’s dumped their garbage on you? How did you react? What did you learn from that experience? What insights did it give you regarding people you work with?

Perspective

Eight o’clock in the evening, last day of the workweek, and I’m still stuck at my desk typing away numbers, while the office cleaner does his evening vacuum routine, dusting off tables and chairs of people he doesn’t even know. Not that I know them more, not quite, but I sure was halfway imagining them celebrating the weekend with families & loved ones at home or wherever social places they can find.  The green monster started to creep in. I was envious. I struggled to fight back the tears not just because I wanted to be brave and keep fighting, but partly because my sobbing wouldn’t really blend well with the sound of the vacuum cleaner that still rings behind.

You see even with crying, I seem to find the perfect place and time to do it. The very first minute when I learned my dad passed away, I didn’t break down right there and then. I held it up for four hours. In between, I had a shower, had my meal, had my morning devotion, went to work, waited till my boss was free that morning, went to his office and asked for an emergency leave, and finally burst into tears – right in my boss’ office.  Maybe because finally saying out loud, “I need to go home to bury my father”, finally felt too real and painful to muster.  Back to the current scenario, I broke down right after I closed the door upon reaching home.  That’s when I finally accepted that it’s alright to cry ‘coz even strong people do.

When people look up to you or seek your help whenever their strength fails, you start to think either of two things:

I’m stronger than them

I have to be strong for them.

Such thought or decision will not last very long. We pass through a season, one after the other. You will start to doubt yourself at one point, and this is where I am right now.

I remember having a conversation inside the lift with one of the building janitor. I found out he worked for 12 hours every day for six days. I realized then that that’s the amount of time I put in every single day too. The only difference is that I crunch numbers and he scrubs floors.  We both do an honest job, we try to be the best at it. If we trade places, would I be as good as him too? I don’t know. Perhaps. All I know and believe is, we get to be equipped to do the things we get to do, and we get better through the years.

One of my virtual coaches shared this exercise one day. He said, start to use the words “get to”, instead of “have to”.

“I get to work every day”  vs  “I have to work every day”

“I get to prepare my meals”  vs  “I have to prepare my meals”

“I get know and meet people”  vs  “I have to know and meet people”

‘I get to serve a ministry”  vs  “I have to serve a ministry”

See the contrast? A different mindset. A different way of looking at things.

Today is the weekend and tomorrow is another day on the battlefield. Surely it wouldn’t be easy because we didn’t choose the easy path. We chose this since we believe we’re made for something more, and we know that victory can only be as rewarding as the sacrifices made behind it.

Yes, there will be days when we’d feel like we’re at the end of the rope, but the consolation is, like everything else, it’s temporary.  As when we take laps in a pool, we breathe in, we breathe out, we swim, but we should take the time to bask in the sun too, and enjoy our favorite poolside drink. Be it a lemonade, a smoothie or a float, it’s worthy to remind ourselves to be grateful enough.  We’re still blessed as “We get to taste it”!