I was talking with a client last weekend about how much she disliked what she called the ‘environment’ of her workplace. When I asked her to describe the environment she told me about too many meetings, the ever-changing minds of top management, the unfairness of workload distribution and even the fact that the coffee was terrible.
As I listened I could almost hear a group of people standing around a cubicle griping together about what wasn’t working. Believe it or not it’s easy to become one of those people. It’s easy to get pulled into the negativity club.
Getting Out Of The “Negativity Club”
A negativity club is a bit like a book club where a group of people have come together around a shared interest but it offers none of the uplifting quality of broadening one’s experience through reading wonderful literature.
Nope! The negativity club members come together around a shared interest in discontent and the more the club meets the deeper the negativity goes until it can become impossible to find the positive. The negativity club is the last bulwark against change. Change is a big no-no to the negativity club. That’s why its members often stay in jobs they complain about regularly rather than head out into the world to find something that offers them more.
You would think the opposite would be true – that the negativity club would be excited when one of the things they complained about changed. But that is not the case.
I can remember one of my first experiences as a new manager, listening to my staff tell me everything that was wrong with the department and the way it had been run. I listened, genuinely interested in creating a workplace that respected people and allowed for discussion and change.
One of the biggest complaints was the long hours people were putting in on a new technology upgrade. So I asked to look at the schedules and who was doing what and I suggested that we shift other priorities to the back burner in order to focus on the upgrade thereby allowing the staff to leave and get home at normal times.
Believe it or not I received not just push back on this suggestion but a long list of reasons why that approach wouldn’t work even though I was the person who could make the decision on the priorities and implement the new approach. No one – and I do mean NO ONE – was willing to give up even one of the other projects in order to reduce their hours and get the upgrade done during the normal work day.
Are You Wearing The “Victim” Badge Of Honor?
That was the first of many eye-opening experiences I had about the power of the negativity club. The club had been in existence for so long and so entrenched in a system fueled by griping and an ‘us versus them’ mentality that making the situation better was unwelcome.
Of course, the real misery of being stuck in a negativity club is wearing the label of VICTIM as a badge of honor. And if you believe yourself a victim then you are powerless to change your situation for the better.
So let’s revisit my client who disliked the environment of her workplace. I asked her to take each one of the things she mentioned and tell me what control she had over each one. At first she said ‘None!’ But I had her sit and write a list and come up with steps SHE could take in each situation. I told her she had to come up with two or three things that were within her power for each item and here is what she wrote:
- Too many meetings – send Andrew to the sales meetings instead of me. Make sure each meeting has a clear agenda and start and stop time. Only have people at meetings who are directly involved in implementation.
- The ever-changing minds of top management – Don’t agree to do everything asked – say let me get back to you after I look at my priorities. Push back and get priorities shifted if something new is more urgent. Update them more frequently (maybe weekly) as to what we are doing as they forget what we are working on.
- The unfairness of workload distribution – Sit down and make a list of all the projects I’m involved in and see where they overlap with someone else. Decide if I’m the right person to do all of them and if not see if I can delegate some of what I am doing. Learn to say ‘NO!’
- Bad coffee – bring in the coffee I like to use in the machine – duh!
By the end of this exercise she was almost laughing about what she had been complaining about just a few minutes earlier. She told me that she realized her inability to say NO to what was being asked of her was a big part of the problem. It is for many people.
So if you are falling into the negativity club, catch yourself before you become a full-fledged member.
You Are A Person Of Power
What I am asking you to remember is that you are not a victim. You are a person of power. Once you step into your power you have the ability to shift your experience of any situation.
So to keep your focus high and bright remember that you are a person of power with the internal resources to create an experience that works for you.
Use your brilliant mind to create thoughts that empower, uplift and motivate you.
Use your beautiful heart to put your passion into whatever work you choose to do.
And use your luminous spirit to share your vibration in the service of others.