The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up. – John C. Maxwell
The noted English architect Sir Christopher Wren was supervising the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers, so he chose three and asked them this question: “What are you doing?”
The first replied, “I’m cutting stone for 10 shillings a day.” The next answered, “I’m putting in 10 hours a day on this job.” But the third said, “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London’s greatest cathedrals.”
As a leader it is important to understand how important your attitude is as it relates to your success. How high and how far you go often has less to do with your talent or skills and has more to do with the attitude you have in navigating those skills. Attitudes can lift you or ground you. It’s a choice we all make.
While you may be fine with that scenario you may have more of an issue with other people and their negative attitudes. How do you handle those perpetually negative or toxic people in your office who always see the glass half empty and usually have something negative to say about most everything?
How can you push back against negative people in your life? Is it really possible? For starters, here are three tips to help you learn how.
Hit your personal reset button.
Hitting your reset button is about recalibrating your own set of personal standards. Consider for a moment the type of people whom you have tolerated or have entertained in the past. How many of those were the negative or toxic types? The reason they were around, excluding professional necessity, is because you chose to have them around. Hitting the reset button is about choosing whom you keep and who you cut loose. I will have more to say about that in a moment. Suffice to say; in order to push back against negative people you have to reset your standards and this means making some really important choices going forward.
Choose your inner circle more carefully.
The reason this is so important is that we tend to become like those we most closely associate with. If you want high standards for yourself then you will have to be more selective about those you keep close. That’s not to say you can’t be cordial to all, but you must be more selective with the few you keep close. Your standards are reflected in your associations. Negative people tend to attract negative people in the same way positive people tend to attract positive people. The good thing is that those closest to you will tend to be of the same mindset and attitude. Be careful about who you keep close because they can be the lifters in your life or the ones who drag you down.
Stay above the fray.
Simply put, there are times when you cannot escape the reach of negative people. They are in your office, they sit at the same conference table as you, and they share the same break room. Sharing the same space is not the same as sharing the same mindset. Your positive attitude can make the difference and give hope to those who share your same beliefs. Stay above the fray by staying true to your values. Staying above the fray means that others will have to come up to your level and not the other way around. When you stay above the fray you are setting a higher standard for everyone.
These three tips all have one thing in common. Did you figure it out? They are not tips on how to change the other person. They are all about the things you can do to improve your own attitude. You can’t change the other person, but you can be a good example to them. Pushing back against negative people is about improving yourself.
What do you say?
© 2014 Doug Dickerson
If you enjoy reading Doug’s leadership insights you will especially enjoy his books, Leaders Without Borders & Great Leaders Wanted. Order them at www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com