Sometimes, it’s not the work that makes us tired—it’s the people we work with! You know what I mean. The slackers, the whiners, the know-it-alls, all of whom contribute to a daily toxic dose of negativity.
So how do you take in all that negativity without being pulled into it, and turning into a negaholic yourself? Here are some life tips on staying upbeat and energetic when everyone else is, well, not.
How to deal with energy vampires
Energy vampires are people who suck all the positivity out of you because no matter what you say or what you do, they always find something to complain about. They say “no” to all ideas, and criticize all efforts, and generally make you want to quit before you even start.
The best way to avoid becoming an energy vampire (or to shut up the energy vampires around you) is to encourage people to share ideas. Hold brainstorming sessions with the strict rule that people get to talk things out before anyone makes any comments.
And when an energy vampire tries to cut you or somebody else down, then say: “Well, what do you suggest?” Get them to stop criticizing and start contributing.
How to stop chronic complainers
Complainers can really ruin company morale, especially since one person’s complaint feeds off another’s and then turns into one big whine festival. Again, the best way to deal with this is to put a positive spin on the discussion. If your lunch time conversation starts getting negative, throw out this question: “If you were boss, what would you do?” Then it turns into whining to making a wishlist, which is more positive and empowering—at least you have everyone talking about solutions, not problems.
How to avoid email wars
Nearly every one has been caught in the vicious exchange of inflammatory emails, usually blaming the other for some problem in the office.
Make it a personal policy to do your toughest talks face to face. If you need to reprimand someone, ask for a meeting. There’s less chance of miscommunication since you can control your tone, and the other person can ask questions and clarify what you mean. And, always end the discussion with ideas on how to improve the situation, so both of you are working together for the future rather than shifting blame for things that happened in the past.
How to deal with the slacker
There are two kinds of slackers: the ones who never work, and the ones who pretend to work. The latter is harder to spot. They pretend to be busy, and are always flitting about, but they never meet deadlines or finish what they started. They exhaust everyone with their constant complaints about being overwhelmed, and then they let everyone down by flaking on their deadlines! (Read our article on how to motivate lazy co-workers.)
The only way to handle either type of slacker is to set concrete goals and make people responsible and accountable for achieving them. Set a priority system so they know what they have to finish first. Break big projects into smaller tasks, each with their own deadline, and ask for regular updates.
Then, weed out the non-performers who regularly miss deadlines. Yes, you may have to fire people, but remember that slackers pull down morale because the rest feel resentful for having to clean up after them. And keeping a slacker rewards him for poor productivity—not a good message to send in an organization.
Photo from seekingalpha.com