It’s another early Monday morning. While stuck in traffic with your air conditioning failing at beating that summer humidity, you feel sick to your stomach dreading the day ahead. You ask yourself how you went from absolutely loving your job, to literally wanting to quit on the spot.
And then you realize the source of the problem. That one toxic person at work has somehow managed to transform the way you feel about your job, the company you work for, and – worst of all – yourself. “Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions” (Forbes). Left unmanaged, exposing ourselves to toxic people can lead to thinking more negatively about our own lives.
Recently, a friend of mine – who I’ve always admired for his professional drive and the passion he has for what he does – told me that he was ready to walk out on his employer. As one of the top performers for the company over the past four years, he had lost site of all of his accomplishments and professional goals because of one person: his manager. As my friend shared story after story with me, my jaw literally dropped. I could hardly believe the negativity, the bullying, the toxicity that this manager unapologetically demonstrated time and time again.
Ironically enough, as we were discussing a much-needed job change, we came across an article from Forbes, How Successful People Handle Toxic People. The article had three tips that we can all do, regardless of who the toxic person in our lives may be.
The “Minnesota nice” in us makes us great listeners. We invite those around us to come to us with their problems, nodding and empathizing for as long as it takes for the individual to vent. While there is some merit to this, identifying people who are generally negative, and setting limits with them is imperative to our own personal well-being.
For example, my friend’s manager has a difficult time interpreting financial documents. And, instead of asking for clarification, often ends up with a complete misinterpretation that – go figure – leads to a negative outlook on employee performance. You can about imagine their team meetings after he’s been stewing on this false information. Instead of listening to the never-ending rants from the manager, my friend is going to ask that the group look at the financial documents together to ensure the accuracy of his manager’s findings. By doing this, the group can assist the manager with analyzing the numbers. And, if there is an opportunity for improvement, they can work together to come up with a solution, instead of just listening to negative talk for unnecessary lengths of time.
“Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason” (Forbes). So, why is it that we allow ourselves to get sucked into this downward spiral?
Upon reading this tip, my friend burst out laughing. “So true,” he said while shaking his head. He had completely fallen victim to this illogical behavior, and allowed himself to become emotional and negative because of it. Going forward, he’s going to consciously focus on the moments when his manager begins turning a productive conversation into something negative. Even if he’s not able to remove himself from the situation, he can focus on the fact that the behavior is illogical, which will enable himself to stay positive and in control of his emotions.
At the end of the day, people will say what they want about our performance, character, and life. While we can’t control the negativity of others, we can control how we talk… to ourselves. Choose to live a life of integrity and authenticity, and stand behind yourself every step of the way. Make a choice to talk to yourself like you would talk to a loved one; with respect, kindness, and encouragement.
With this tip, my friend smiled. He knows that he is talented, and is confident in his professional skills. And, until he can find a different job, he is ready to handle his toxic manager in order to continue building upon the success that he’s had with this company.
Have you ever had to deal with a toxic person? How did you handle the situation?
Written by Brittany Woitas
Brittany is in cohort 4, which started in Fall of 2015. She is a Marketing Strategist by day and fitness junkie wannabe by night. When she’s not nose-deep in a book that she has to read for her MBA class, you can find her kayaking on the river or bicycling to a brewery. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.