INSULATE YOURSELF FROM WORKPLACE NEGATIVITY
By Brenda Smyth
We’ve all encountered negative people in the workplace. No matter the circumstances, they’re never happy, always complaining, and always the first ones to find fault with others. Even when you’ve had successes, they’re quick to point out areas where you could have done better.
Negativity is natural. Our brains naturally tend to make a bigger deal out of bad things, than good things. However, according to psychologytoday.com, you can train your brain to be happier and more positive. “By focusing on the positive aspects of a situation, you actually build new neural structures in your brain.” They suggest bringing pleasant or happy experiences to the forefront of your mind and lingering on them for five seconds or more. “By doing this periodically, you will rewire your brain, making it more likely to notice positive things in the future.”
While you can’t affect how naysayers see the world, you can choose how their attitude affects you. You can either succumb to their negative energy and let it change your own outlook and confidence, or you can insulate yourself from it.
But what’s the best way to protect yourself from negativity in the workplace? In today’s inter-connected work environment, it’s impossible to completely avoid negative people. With that in mind, here’s a guide to help you minimize the effects of uncooperative and obstinate co-workers and employees.
Look confident. Even if you have doubts, don’t allow them to surface. Act and behave with self-assurance and don’t allow critics to push your buttons. This means not stooping to their level and engaging in pointless and detrimental arguments. This is especially true when you’re the boss. Remember, at the end of the day, you have final say, so if you truly believe that you’re taking the right course of action, don’t let anyone dissuade you.
Identify the sources of negativity in your workplace and set limits. If a co-worker or employee is constantly complaining and taking a “poor me” attitude, set clear boundaries. Limit the amount of time you spend talking about these complaints. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address legitimate concerns, but rather that you shouldn’t occupy too much time in your busy schedule listening to complaints that are unavoidable.
Keep producing great results. If someone is constantly running down your ideas or achievements, doing a good job speaks for itself. Eventually their nitpicking will become apparent as just pettiness.
The most assertive and direct tactic would be to approach the critic calmly, and seek to find out exactly why he or she is so down on you and your work. If you approach them rationally, most people, when confronted with evidence of their own poor behavior, will be shamed into improving their attitude.
How to Tame Your Anger at the Office and Keep Your Cool
By Dan Rose
Do people and situations at work leave you fuming? Do you sometimes wish you had a better handle on your temper? Have you ever said something in anger that you later wished you could take back? If so, you need to tame your anger and control it. Before you do permanent damage to your career, that is.
When I was a teenager with (ahem) occasional anger issues, I imagined the emotion was like a wild animal. It seemed to come out of nowhere, surprising me with its intensity and leaving me unable to focus on anything else. The truth is, we create our own anger, and we alone have the power to keep it at bay. Anger is triggered by three factors: negative thoughts, perceived threats and physiological response.
When an event happens, instead of putting a neutral or positive interpretation on it, you put a negative interpretation on it. By thinking negative thoughts, you actually create your own anger. For instance, your colleague has gone to lunch, leaving a pile of proofreading on her desk. If you think, “Great, she’s never going to get through that pile before the end of the day, and we’ll both have to stay late to get them done tonight,” you are using negative thoughts to create anger toward your colleague. If instead you observed the pile and thought, “Hmmm, I wonder if she is planning to finish those today, or come in early tomorrow,” you have not created any angry thoughts toward her. And when she comes back from lunch, you may very well learn that the pile on her desk has already been taken care of.
Anger is triggered when you sense a threat to yourself. In the above example, you felt angry at your colleague when you saw the proofreading, because you believed that you would be called upon to do part of her work for her. If you just saw the pile and thought, “That’s an awful lot of proofreading to get through,” you are not creating anger because you are not faced with a threat.
Once you have a negative interpretation and sense a perceived threat during a situation, you have an immediate physiological response. Adrenaline rushes through your body. Your heart beats faster, your respiration increases, your blood pressure goes up, and your skin temperature rises. As a result, you are angrier than ever, and it is difficult to calm down and think rationally. If you put a negative interpretation on an event, but do not perceive a personal threat, you won’t feel angry. And, if you have an adrenaline rush without a negative thought, you may feel anxious, jealous, sad or great joy. But you will not feel anger. The hormone adrenaline fuels your emotions. But it’s your thinking that determines what emotion you are feeling. You may be reluctant to believe that other people are not the cause of your anger, but it’s true. Your own thought patterns are the culprits every time!
Tame your anger
If you are interested in toning down your negative outbursts and staying in control, try the following technique. First, say to yourself, “I choose not to be angry, I choose to be in control.” Repeat it constantly, as often as you can. Within three days, you will notice a remarkable change. When a negative thought about someone’s actions pops into your head, you’ll replace it immediately with “I choose not to be angry, I choose to be in control.” You’ll cut off the negative thought and tame your anger before you reach the boiling point.
Another suggestion is to put an X on your calendar each time you allow yourself to feel angry with someone. Once you see how many times a day you make yourself and others miserable because of your anger, you will be able to take positive steps toward staying in control.
Remember, anger is a choice. You can choose to control your anger, or you can choose to let it control you.
How to Guide and Lead a Successful Diverse, Multigenerational Team
By Cameron Bishop
We’re in an ever-changing work environment today—the world is smaller and a homogeneous workplace rarely exists. Today, leaders deal with a variety of employees across generational and cultural lines, each with their own values, beliefs, work ethics and needs. It is the mosaic of people who bring a variety of backgrounds, styles and perspectives as assets to the groups and organizations with which they interact.
Today, as leaders, it is about valuing, appreciating, respecting and adapting to each other and our cultural and generational differences. It’s sometimes difficult, but the intent is to make the most of everyone’s potential contribution.
If employees feel that they can’t be themselves at work, they won’t fully engage as part of the team. This type of environment can significantly influence an employee’s involvement in their department or organization; it can potentially lead to low morale, increased absenteeism and decreased productivity. Leaders play an important role in setting the tone for diversity and inclusiveness.
Encourage and embrace diversity in the workplace
Learn about the cultural backgrounds, lives and interests of employees outside of the workplace
Include opportunities for staff to interact in settings outside of work so that employees feel more comfortable
Ensure all employees have the opportunity to take part in decision-making and planning for social activities
Be aware of, and provide time off for, culturally significant events and holy days. Consider offering a float day for employees to use at their discretion to observe such events or days.
If possible, permit flexible schedules so that employees who observe religious practices can arrange their schedules around their beliefs.
Strategies for leading a diverse and multigenerational team
Working with four generations in the workplace takes communication to a new level. You can’t assume that what you said is what the other person heard. Because generations communicate differently, it’s important to tailor your message for maximum effect.
Have a regular program to teach and encourage employees to appreciate the differences between the cultures and generations
Acknowledge diverse perspectives on issues
Make sure everyone is included in team discussions and decisions
Ensure that the company’s mission and goals are clear to people of all cultures and generations
Adapt your style as needed to accomplish the goals of the organization
If you are a part of Generation X or the Millennials, you will gain credibility and respect from Boomers and the Silent Generation by communicating with them in their terms. When working together with clients, younger generations should treat older generations with more formality. Avoid familiarity unless it’s invited or permitted after your request.
All generations should treat the others with respect and be open to their ideas. Consider how each generation’s perspectives affect how they work together on teams. For example, a Baby Boomer or Silent Generation member has more life and work experience and can offer a longer term perspective. Younger generations are more in tune with what’s important to younger people and markets and know what will work best with them.
Consider how words have different meanings to different generations (e.g., “wicked” means cool, neat or awesome to younger generations but evil or bad to older generations). Avoid using pop culture terms because in most instances, the meaning will be lost on the other person.
Managing a diverse and multigenerational team is complex, but also amazing. When done correctly, the knowledge and experience shared will keep your organization flexible well into the future.
Why Disagreeing With Your Boss (Sometimes) Is the Best Thing You Can Do
From The Managers Minute
The greatest boss that I ever had invited disagreement with his decisions … up to a point. He actively sought out differing opinions and ideas, but at some point, it was his decision to make. Afterwards, it was up to us to make it come true. And this was back in 1978 before the “treat your employees like human beings” trend started. On the other hand, the worst boss I ever worked for had the “red eye death glare” thing going if you brought up anything wrong with any of his decisions, no matter how trivial they might have been. That was five years ago. You could say that disagreeing wasn’t in his managerial bag of tricks.
But here’s a secret … disagreeing with your boss might get you major brownie points at work. IF you disagree the right way, of course. Most bosses depend on honest, educated feedback from the people around them. You may have different information than your boss has—your position puts you closer to the action. Past experience, a mistake or failure may give you a unique perspective.
You were hired because of your skills, and it’s important to find the best way to express yourself and share that knowledge. Pointing out that you “knew” something wasn’t going to work, after the fact, definitely won’t win you any points. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Prepare now for successful, well-received disagreement. Lay the groundwork by creating an honest, reliable track record so your boss will trust your insight and suggestions:
Develop a record of success at work. This shows that you’re making strong decisions and can be trusted to continue. A side benefit: If you look good, your boss usually looks good too.
Make sure your business dealings are ethical. Admit your mistakes. Build a history of making recommendations that are in the best interests of the entire company, not just yourself or your department.
Build a strong relationship with your boss. Take the opportunity to learn from the things your boss is doing right. Chances are your boss didn’t get to the position by accident. Working around your boss to get something done probably won’t help your case.
Have a conversation about how to disagree. Having this talk when the stakes are low and everyone is calm will give you a reference point for later. “There will probably be times when you and I don’t agree on something. What’s the best way for me to approach you to discuss this?”
Now, you’re ready to disagree.
Establish Common Ground and Intent
First, it is vital that your boss knows you understand and are committed to his or her interests. If you are working from this agreed-upon mutual purpose, it will help clarify that your intent is only to do the best job possible. To ensure that you fully understand his or her viewpoint, get clarification by asking some open-ended probing questions: “I wanted to learn more about the new direction we’re taking ….” This also gives your boss the floor and some control. Next, find out why this particular choice was made. Getting to the root of your boss’s perspective may give you some insight into the “why” part of the equation. It may also reveal that you don’t have all the facts.
Show Respect and a Fact-based Alternative
Now that you’ve gotten clarification, ask if there’s an opportunity to come up with another solution. Unless your questions revealed nothing new, you might want to schedule and present your solution in a follow-up meeting. Begin by reassuring your boss that you respect his or her position. Then present your solution supported by facts. Do some research. Find benchmarks. If you have industry knowledge or connections, tap into these to support your position.
6 additional tips:
1. Don’t confront in a meeting. Schedule a separate time to discuss.
2. If your boss becomes defensive, pause and reassure him or her of your positive intentions
3. Don’t use email to disagree
4. Do NOT disagree with every little thing all the time
5. Avoid having this discussion when you’re angry
6. Stick to the facts—nothing personal
Finally, It’s okay if your ideas aren’t accepted all the time, but that’s OK. Use a respectful, thoughtful approach when disagreeing with your boss to get your ideas heard. Having facts to support your position adds weight to your view. Speaking up thoughtfully will help solve problems by using rational, mature conversations. But ultimately, your boss has the final say.