How do you keep on being positive when you encounter or work with someone who is negative?

Being with someone who exudes the opposite of your positive, bubbly, hopeful, optimistic attitude is challenging. At one job I was told not to laugh. No, I did not work in a library. No, I wasn’t laughing incessantly all day long. If I heard something funny, I would laugh. The voice inside my head told me, “Well, maybe they wish they could laugh as freely as I can.” And, “Maybe they wish they were happier.” Those thoughts give me possible insight into someone else’s struggles. (maybe.)

In a different position, I was in charge of training a new employee who would be my counterpart. She never smiled. I don’t smile every single second of the day but, when I was at this job, which involved constantly interacting with customers, I always made eye contact with people, smiled, and perhaps engaged in a friendly chat.

The Bad Seed

Years ago I attended a presentation of Bryan Dodge, whose focus was about finding your light, your positivity. He demonstrated what he would do when he encountered an extremely negative person. He’d make the motion with his hands as if he were casting a spell and say, “Bad seed! Bad seed!” Some audience members then shared their experiences with bad seeds in their lives. Then the whole audience together cast the “Bad seed! Bad seed!”

This new employee was definitely a bad seed. Her negativity, bitterness, harshness, and competitive nature would ooze from her. At the end of the day after her shadowing me, which really wasn’t shadowing because when a new employee shadows a veteran employee, they are the ones who are there to listen and learn. This did not happen with this person. Her first week at the job she was telling everyone what they were doing wrong, what she didn’t like about certain staff people, and how she didn’t like how things were done. While I am all for change and suggestions for making a workplace better, I do not recommend starting a new job and criticising everything within your first week. I want to be the one who plants flowers and not weeds.

Be the change you want to see

When I had suggested she soften her approach, her response definitely caught me by surprise. “There is nothing wrong with my approach. No one else has a problem with my approach. You do things your way and I’ll do things my way.”

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

I am sharing this story as an opportunity to shed light on how it can be challenging to maintain your positivity when you’re surrounded by negativity. I can continue to be the change and continue to exude positivity. And, let’s face it, positivity leads to profitability. Just in the short time I worked with her, I could pick up on her strong, negative, controlling demeanor. And, worse yet, I could see the uneasiness on customers’ faces. (Yikes!)

I know that how I interact with others has a positive impact on people. And, it affects business in a positive way. I will continue to be my fun, positive, helpful self. What I can do is to continue to be a beacon of lightness and levity…and lead by example.

“There are two ways of spreading light—to be the candle or the mirror that reflect it.”
Edith Wharton; American novelist, short story writer, and designer

About the author: To find out more about Julie Ostrow, please click here.


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