responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.
John C. Maxwell
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
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
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?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at