This is not an HR blog so I write this assuming you already know the practical steps to take to call out unacceptable behaviour and the people to escalate situations to if colleagues are causing you unnecessary grief. This blog offers some additional ways to use your mind to help you thrive in spite of toxic colleagues.
So, you are a dedicated, hardworking person trying to thrive as your professional self. But there are people around you who are making that so much harder to achieve. You have much more control over your own behaviour than you do over the behaviour of others, so how can you best deal with these people in your mind to stop them from being a barrier to your success?
Pause and regain control before responding
Firstly, remember that no-one has the power to ruin your day unless you let them. People around you can be as negative, difficult and dramatic as they please, but that can only impact your mood and your actions if you give them that power. There is a small period of time between witnessing something and taking action where your mind computes how to respond. Try to spot that tiny moment next time someone is being difficult and remind yourself that you can choose whether to let them impact you or not.
I’m not saying this is easy and it really does take some practice, but it will become easier the more you consciously stop, breathe and remind yourself who is in control of your thoughts and actions before you take the next step. Once that difficult person realises that you consistently do not rise to their bate, they will hopefully get bored and redirect their negative energy elsewhere.
It’s also an outward sign to anyone else witnessing it of your professionalism and ability to handle difficult situations. If you can respond with humility, control and reason, you will come out smelling of roses.
Remember it’s about them, not you
More often than not, if you feel someone is being disproportionately difficult or negative, it means there’s something going on for them that is fuelling their behaviour. Often it’s a case of “it’s not me, it’s you”! This doesn’t mean never taking responsibility for outcomes, but it does make it easier to handle unprofessional behaviour from others if you remind yourself they are going through their own stuff and it’s not personal. Even if that isn’t true and they’re in a great place and just choosing to be difficult, does that matter? If assuming there’s more to their behaviour makes it easier to let go and move on to something that is important to you, then that can only be a good thing.
Put up your sh*t shield
If you find you are easily drained by the negativity of others, like you work with a bunch of energy vampires who suck the positivity out of everything, then it’s time to deploy your sh*t shield. If you had a shield that you could put up that meant the negativity of others just bounced right off without effecting you at all, what would it look like? What would it be made of and what colour would it be? Would it be something you put up or something that was with you all the time? Perhaps it would be a suit of armour, or a superhero costume? For me, I imagine a cloak that is made of special fabric so that only positive vibes can come through but negative ones are blocked. The simple act of imagining donning this cloak means I can enter a dreaded meeting feeling more in control of my emotions and resilient to the actions of others. Bring out your sh*t shield to stop those vampires from being able to drain you of your positivity.
Find them fascinating
If you change your mindset from annoyance to fascination, where you observe their behaviour and find it interesting from a social study perspective, this will enable emotional detachment. This detachment will mean you can be present to their negative attitude and behaviour without taking it on as anything to do with you. Personally, I find this a really effective strategy because I can be curious about what they will get up to next rather than dreading it happening. Imagine you are watching their behaviour on a reality TV show and can observe it as an outsider to give you that detachment from their negativity.
You may have noticed that all of these tips involve you taking the moral high ground and changing your mindset. This can seem unfair that you have to make the changes when it’s the other person being difficult. But that’s what having an internal locus of control is all about. Ultimately the only thing we have complete control over is how we handle a situation, and we are already making unconscious choices to let them negatively impact us. These techniques are a few ways to consciously make different choices to serve you better, and the more you apply them the more they will become your natural response. Apply these strategies regularly and that toxic colleague will lose all power over you and your emotions.
If you would like to discuss how my blend of online Cognitive Hypnotherapy and Coaching can help you create more positive mind patterns to thrive in and outside of work, get in touch to book a free discovery call.