Recently I was working as a receptionist in an ongoing temporary placement. I couldn’t have been happier – I found the work easy and enjoyable, the people were really welcoming and friendly and the pay was good.
As I progressed in my placement and became closer to my colleagues I was told nightmare stories about the boss who allegedly intimidated his workers and ruled with an iron fist. At no point whilst working there did I see any behaviour of his that I would class as out of the ordinary however the stories inevitably coloured my experience of how I perceived the workplace.
About a month into the placement my colleagues began to gossip to me about nearly all of their in turn. At first I felt awkward and then before long I felt as if I were expected to agree with the comments, thereby joining in on the gossip myself. This process happened so subtly that I was soon privy to all manner of gossip, from how one new employee was too negative to how needy another was.
It wasn’t long before I started to become more negative, focussing on the flaws in people as opposed to my more typical empathetic and positive attitude towards others. It was as if the negativity I was surrounded by was breeding negativity in me, like a virus spreading through my body.
It was only after the placement had finished and I was distanced from the situation that I realised just how destructive the environment had been. In truth it took me a couple of weeks to find my equilibrium again and fight off the intolerant mindset which the negative environment had nurtured.
Several years beforehand, whilst working in London, I was also in a company where very few of the employees were happy, in fact most of them were pretty miserable. Again, gossip was rife. In this case however, I didn’t engage with it and remained positive, motivated by a desire to feel good about where I worked and who I worked for.
Looking back I can see how I used the power of positivity to avoid a negative downward spiral. I woke up each day and practised gratitude, for my job, for my salary, for almost everything that I had in life. I filled my free parts of my day with positive picture quotes on Facebook and uplifting music, I offered people coffee in the office and took pride in my work. I helped the homeless and gave compliments freely. In essence, my gratitude and positivity practises were high.
Suzanne Segerstrom, a positive psychology researcher, states that “a number of studies show that optimists are in general psychologically and physiologically healthier” and studies have shown that, on average, people with a positive disposition live around ten years longer. Unsurprisingly, positive people are more resilient to stress, challenges and adversity. As if these findings weren’t enough, several studies have shown that positive people are more likely to gain the support of others and receive pay raises and promotions in the workplace.
Stay tuned – next Monday we look at the 8 key gains of fostering a positive outlook.
Have you had any experiences where the negativity of others affected you? Do you try to avoid gossiping? How did you avoid a negative downward spiral? Do you agree that negativity is detrimental? Please comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
- Write down any areas of your life where others negativity is affecting you
- Write down any areas where you are currently negative
‘Discovering the Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale
Positively Positive – a blog dedicated to positivity!