Prove People Right
When you are working with many people in an office, find positive people who support you, then stick with them. There will always be some level of negativity, all with varying degrees, in an office—nobody is perfect and mistakes are made. The question is, what is done to keep it alive and what is done to make it go away? Sometimes, the negativity is short lived because a sale was lost or a promotion was missed and people quickly got over it. In some cases, it is more long term, because of an economic recession, for example, during which people need more nurturing and support to find their way through. Negativity can start with an individual and quickly gain momentum to a group. Negativity has a tendency to grow like a cancer and build upon itself if the people affected don’t make a conscious effort to stem the tide. We all have the choice to take action and surround ourselves with the types of people who want us to succeed, provide us constant support, and build a positive working environment.
In my early career, it seemed fun to sit around at lunch time and find things to complain about. One day, we would complain about the boss, the next day it may be a colleague, and the following day it may be a customer. I thought it was good therapy to get it all out and move on. However, we did not move on from the complaining. Even conversations about the weather were complaints about how hot and humid it was in the summer and how cold and miserable it was in the winter. My crowd of complainers built off the negative momentum. I found most of our conversations continued to have the same thread of negativity being pulled through.
What was interesting is how much my long-term mood and outlook changed based on who I was working with and spending most of my time with. As I took on more independent roles, I had more choices to decide who I would spend time with. I took less group lunches and started to separate myself from the companions who I felt were adding to the negative environment.
I was also learning to establish new relationships and networks. With my newer relationships, I was less comfortable openly complaining, and found myself not getting caught up in a flow of negative dialogue. I found that as I was meeting more new people, I wanted to spread positive messages. One of those ways was to proactively recognize the work of the people I was spending more time with. When co-workers are across the country, it is nice to have a recognition email waiting for them. I started to also realize that it was becoming easier to compliment the people I was working with locally because spreading a positive message was becoming contagious for me.
I started to surround myself with similar people who sought to see the glass as half full. I still had my moments of doubt and negativity, but the moments were less frequent. That doesn’t mean that I stopped providing critical and balanced feedback when appropriate. It just means it was easier to provide constructive feedback when people trusted the source as someone who was looking out for their best interest. In fact, I believe my feedback was more useful since there was more sincerity behind it as opposed to entering a complaint session.
I knew I was making a difference and was being perceived differently when people came out and said, “Your stock is rising.” I had such a feeling of satisfaction that someone would outwardly say that to me. I actually heard this more than once from several people I knew believed in me and supported me. I had a trusted group of people who looked out for my best interest and kept me focused on seeing the best in everything.
I found a network of people who saw my strengths and maximized the use of those strengths. I wanted to spend more time with them because I fed off the positive energy. They believed in me and saw a path to success. I thought I was getting more roles that played off my strengths. In reality, this was true, but not to the extent I originally believed. I was not just in positions playing to my strengths—I was working smarter to expand on these strengths, and turning my weaknesses to strengths. For example, in the past, I may not have had the confidence to question something that did not make sense. When I was surrounded by people who encouraged me to ask open-ended clarification questions, I came up the learning curve more quickly, and gained confidence. In another example, I was sent to a new manager and felt like I had to start over again. As previously mentioned, there were times when I was moved to different roles in my career when I wasn’t succeeding. In this case, my new manager said in our first conversation that I was taking over the forty-fifth ranked team in the company. His instructions were simple: “Make them number one.” He mentioned that he trusted me and would give me space as long as he saw the team’s growth. He was giving me a clean slate. As we continued to work together, he was making me believe in myself again. I was starting to take the right actions to have the team believe in me, too. The team rose to the second-ranked team in the company in less than two months. I was riding their coat tails, while being there to provide support and encouragement. I was proving my new manager right.
You can start to prove people right by finding the motivational factors to not let that someone down or by making the extra effort to show them what you are capable of. In all cases, your own success is facilitated when you surround yourself with good people who support you, people who believe in you, people who encourage you, and people who inspire you. Fend off the negative people who may be nearby, find the uplifting people, and together create your own positive vision by feeding off the positive energy and enthusiasm of others. Then, prove them right.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
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MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby