We were in Alabama, I think. Maybe it was Arkansas, back then everyplace blended together, all hotel ballrooms end up looking the same. We travelled to a new city at least weekly. Besides the ballrooms being the same, the words were the same as well:
“You are just not good enough.”
“It is your fault sales are low.”
“Sales are down because the economy crashed.”
“Corporate always makes bad moves and tries to screw the field”
“The customers are idiots.”
These were the constant phrases spoken by our sales boss. This relentless negativity demoralized the entire team, hurt our performance, and even had me starting to believe these false realities.
We all have to deal with negative people. Sometimes they like to call themselves “realists”. In actuality there are only two types of people: those who focus on the “can” and those who focus on the “can’t”. Maybe you can see both, but you can’t focus on both. No one can. Our mind reverts to processing what is easiest. It is easier to accept failure than strive for greatness. The good news is that what we focus on is not permanent, it can be changed, we can change it.
Emotions are transferable. We feel what those around us are feeling. When other people are negative it can affect us. The opposite is also true, when we are positive, our attitude can help other people. The best way to overcome negativity is through patience. When coupled with proper action patience is actually the secret to solving many problems. Patience with empathy solves most relationships. Patience with hard work creates success.
Patience is what wins over negativity. Patience is what drives success. Patience is what makes hard-work work. Most people are not patient enough to win. It takes effort and focus to overcome your obstacles. In the same way, most people are not patient enough to overcome those who are negative. It takes effort and lots of brain-gymnastics to be patient when surrounded by negativity. The more we develop our emotional awareness, the better we become at overcoming negativity in the workplace.
Back in Arizona – (or was it Alaska?) – after one especially successful week of positive sales and professional growth, our manager came in and said:
“just make sure they don’t all cancel”.
Our spirits immediately flattened.
All the good we had strived for was erased with those 7 words.
We had enough.
As a team we decided that it was time to take action.
So we – “the underlings” – realized that while we can’t change the boss, we can change ourselves. So we did.
We applied the principles of patience to everything we did and found that by consistently doing these 4 things our team’s situation dramatically improved:
- Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Your mind is powerful. You can completely focus on one thing at a time. If you notice a negative thought, replace it with something positive. Think of a recent win. Think about your greatest memory from your childhood. Be patient with yourself and with others when focusing on replacing your thoughts. It takes time to master this skill. We define our own personal existence. Our thoughts and feelings define our life experiences.
- Share positive stories. Stories open the mind and heart. Stories allow us to place ourselves in the shoes of other people. Stories help us develop empathy. By sharing positive stories, we can create a community while erasing doubt and uncertainty. Communicate positive stories frequently. Share stories. Share more stories. Be consistently patient for them to start working in increasing the positivity of those around you.
- Respect the opinions of others. Treat everyone you meet with respect. We are all humans and are all valuable. Show appreciation and respect the value of other people. Be honest but not rude. Ask for opinions even when they are not offered. When people feel valued they are live up to their potential. Be patient with people who have different opinions than yourself.
- Publicize everyone’s individual contributions, especially those who seem to have it all. Every needs validation, some people pretend they don’t, but they do. When each of us matter, we all become stronger. Help others by focusing on them, be patient in knowing your time will come, but now it is more important to help others first. By patiently helping others you’re also helping yourself.
Working with negative people is hard. Deciding what that negativity does to you is easy. Decide to not let it bother you. Decide to take positive action. Decide to be patient. With patience and positive action, you can correct almost any negative situation. Patience is a sign of emotional intelligence.
You are strong enough to decide who you are and what you think. Decide to overcome negativity by choosing your own meaning to every situation. Look for the good, look for the “can.” Decide to be better. Decide to help others.