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Is a colleague’s negative attitude rubbing off on you?

By Nancy Nzalambi | October 11th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

I once sat in next to a well-dressed man who was clearly having a bad day. Endless phone calls had him almost yelling at the person on the other end of the line. I started feeling uncomfortable but I couldn’t switch seats. I had to hear a conversation that I wasn’t part of. Sometimes, we can’t help but pick up that type of energy along the way, affecting our interactions of the day.

Is your colleague’s negative attitude rubbing off on you? Do you find yourself displaying some of their behaviour and qualities? There could be that colleague you try to avoid at all costs, maybe because of their bad attitude, but somehow you find yourself mimicking some of their traits.

Their perpetually cranky nature, pessimistic personality, unfair criticism is utterly unpleasant. Their actions influence your thoughts, feelings and behaviour despite your disdain towards such behaviour. This sort of attitude parasitism can have a detrimental impact on you and spread like and epidemic at the workplace.

Life, especially now that we are somehow recovering from the economic effects of Covid-19, is tough enough as it is. We already have a lot on our plates. It is taxing enough to tackle unpleasant co-workers let alone when their behaviour hamstrings us. When energies are focused on how defensive we can be towards negative workmates, managing the workload takes more time that it ordinarily should.

Creativity suffers

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A workplace with negative thoughts floating around has no room for creativity and innovation. Negative attitude can cloud brainstorming sessions. Ideas are blocked when negativity fills the room. Instead of bouncing ideas, criticizing them and positively contributing to change, you will be sitting there thinking how you hate your teammate. No one would like to work with the wet blanket in the room. Uncouth attitude and chronic complaining will transform the workplace into a toxic environment.

Attitude is contagious. If negative attitude rubs off on you, it means that it can rub off on others as well. If left unchecked, negative attitude will bring down the entire team. This translates to low productivity and an unhappy workforce. The mental energy you use to worry, dreading how a conversation with them will be is draining. Instead of fretting such moments, examine how affected you are by their actions.

Instead of spending too much time analysing their behaviour, focus your time on more positive thoughts. Pay more attention to more productive thoughts and make conscious efforts to devote more time to productive matters.

What to do 

“Negative people can bring out the worst in us if were’re not careful. Sometimes certain pessimists seem to have the power to raise our blood pressure for one reason or another”, says psychotherapist Amy Morin.

When someone has the ability to affect our emotions, it will only take an insignificant trigger to take off an emotional bomb. There is also a high chance that you cause a similar effect to your other colleagues. If they make you “mad” it simply means that you are blaming them for your own conduct. This is one common pitfall among co-workers. Despite their behaviour, you should be in control of your actions. Stay calm and true to the values you live by.

It is difficult to stay positive when your unpleasant co-worker is all over. You cannot fire them, nor can you transfer them to another department. You think to yourself how they did not deserve the promotion they just got. Such kinds of thoughts can strain interpersonal relationships or even get you fired if you act on them negatively.

One way to deal with them is to inject a dose of optimism and positivity for yourself.

Examine your role in it

We find ourselves with unnecessary frustration when we assume responsibility for things beyond our control. You are not directly responsible for how someone else feels.

If you are on a mission to make and insatiable person happy, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment and resentment. Save yourself from unnecessary struggle and free your energy from excess responsibility.

Everyone has good days and bad days at the workplace. When someone’s mood is off, something can be done to change their mood for the better.


Colleagues Workplace Toxic Coworker
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