It is a proven fact – the attitude of those around you is contagious.
This fact is great, when the attitude we are infected with is a positive one. But that isn’t the purpose of this article. Since negative attitudes are just as contagious as positive ones, if you are like me, you’d like to guard yourself from these attitudes!
Whether you deal with this with co-workers, the team you lead, or people in your personal life, the six ideas below will help you – if you put them to work.
In some cases I mean this literally. If a person’s attitude is negatively affecting you, don’t spend time around them. This literal meaning might not be possible if they are your co-worker, if you lead them or if they are your Customer or Supplier, at least not immediately. But it is very possible to do so in your personal life. Limit the time spent with this person – especially if the other ideas below don’t help you.
If the person works for you, buys from you or sells to you – you might not be able to remove them from your work immediately, but if the other ideas below don’t help, it is possible to fire or re-assign employees, change suppliers, and get new Customers, right?
Separate the Behavior From the Person
Just because someone’s behavior is challenging to you and bringing down your attitude, doesn’t mean they are a bad person. Thankfully, we are not our behavior, and behavior can change. When you remember this idea and can make this separation, it will help you put their attitude into a different perspective, and perhaps keep their mindset from influencing yours quite as much.
Acknowledge, But Don’t Agree
Often people want us to commiserate with their bad luck stories, but it is often those stories that negatively impact our attitude. If or when we can’t distance or disassociate from people, I do recommend listening to their perspectives and stories – but we don’t have to agree with them. Listen to them to be empathetic if needed, but don’t take on their issues in the progress.
In fact, you can almost make it a game in your own head – looking for the flip side of their story. Look for the positive angle or benefit in their “ain’t it awful” story. Whether you choose to share your different perspective with them is up to you (and perhaps dependent on the situation and relationship). Either way, the mental exercise of looking for the good angle will help keep you from picking up their negative attitude.
Inoculate Yourself From the Contagion
Medical professionals give us all kinds of good advice of things we can do to reduce the chance we get the flu or catch whatever virus is floating around us. Their advice includes rest, better diet, washing our hands and in some cases inoculating ourselves to keep from getting the malady.
We can inoculate ourselves against negative attitudes as well. Here is a (very) short list of ideas to get you started – the common thread involves consciously and intentionally putting more positive thoughts into your mind to help overcome the negative.
- Read things that inspire you. It could be spiritual material, biographies of successful people (who likely have overcome great negativity in their lives), poetry or whatever inspires you.
- Watch uplifting movies.
- Spend time with positive people.
- Practice looking for the good in situations. It is almost always there; maybe not in the moment, but in the big picture it can usually be found.
- Create a gratitude journal – write down things each day that you are thankful for.
Influence Their Attitude
Their attitude is contagious, but so is yours. What are you doing to help moderate or change their attitude? This could include coaching (while you can’t coach attitude directly, there are things you can do – I recorded this video that you might find helpful), but it goes beyond that too.
How about being supportive, offering to help, or being encouraging? How about a smile? How about having a positive outlook that might help them change theirs?
Let It Go
There is something else we can do too. When we remember that their attitude is their choice, we can choose to let go of their attitude’s influence on us. (Tweet that) They are making choices, and we are making different ones. It may take some practice, but this can be a very powerful approach, especially when combined with the separation of person and behavior described above.
Say it with me: let it go.
These ideas can help you reduce the impact of other people’s negativity on you. They will take some practice, but most anything worth doing is worth working at. See how that statement is a positive thought?
You are on the right track.