A few weeks ago I received a Dear B&B letter from a reader inquiring about strategies for dealing with negativity, particularly in the workplace. For several reasons, I am choosing to share my response to it below, but also feel inclined to provide some quick context:
The entire premise of Dear B&B is to remind us that we are not alone. That while our circumstances or demographics may differ, we are all – underneath it all – human, and are facing many of the same challenges at a fundamental level.
We all have insecurities. Fears. Hopes, dreams and aspirations.
We think irrational things. Get in our own way. We want to be loved.
And we acknowledge that while life is downright beautiful and an absolute gift, it can also be very, very hard.
So that is why I am choosing to share this particular letter via The Weekly Vibe, as it reflects a predicament I’ve been staring down myself. Because while I’d like to tell you that B&B is immune to negativity, to truth is that the vulnerability of our content can be uncomfortable for some readers, resulting in an emotional, how-dare-you-say-that response.
Therefore, I’m going to be taking some time to rethink how to continue to grow the B&B community in a way that ensures the right people are on the receiving end of our message. This is in no way to keep out people who don’t agree with our point of view, but rather to ensure that we can continue to speak filter-free to those who are willing to go within themselves to truly listen.
Important to note, too, as a friendly reminder, that reading The Weekly Vibe is completely voluntary. So if you’d rather not receive these emails, simply respond with the word “Unsubscribe” to be taken off the list with no questions asked.
I wish everyone a week of outmatching negativity (see below).
What are some ways that you steel yourself against negativity? Especially in an arena that’s tough to escape like the workplace?
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Dear Can’t We All Just Get Along,
First and foremost, let’s just say that the world would be a much different place if we could all just agree to disagree. To accept that someone’s differing viewpoints are not a direct assault on our own values. To understand that it’s not only possible – but essential – to learn how to stand up for ourselves without putting someone else down.
Yet, since there seems to be a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to accepting this notion, we must, as your letter suggests, develop strategies for surviving other people’s toxic vibes. And that’s actually the first piece of a two-pronged approach to not letting their “stuff” become yours:
Whole-heartedly grasping and believing that it’s not you, it’s them.
I know your rational brain knows this, Can’t We All Just Get Along, but it should be considered the first line of defense to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When someone snaps at you or speaks in a way that is blatantly unkind, take a minute (and nothing more) to wonder what might be going on in their life.
And I say this, yes, to trigger a sense of sympathy, but more so because as soon as you let their negative words/actions/behaviors penetrate your self worth, they win.
So once you’ve acknowledged that they clearly have a reason, albeit unknown to you, to be filled with such angst, the next proactive step I encourage you to take is to manifest that negative into a positive.
In other words, pour it full.
Consider yourself signed up for a new Olympic sport that makes a competition out of negativity. Be its biggest opponent, fighting it head on with equally unnecessary positivity.
Make it your job to convert every grumble, every nasty text, every passive-aggressive remark into some brightness for someone other. Compliment the person who has done a good job, buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you, hold a door.
Keep a running tally if you have to, so that at the end of the day you can say with certainty that you won and outmatched the negativity around you.
Not only will those people and their “stuff” start to have less and less power over you…
…but just imagine the ripple effect your random acts of kindness will create when others are inspired to do the same.