We’ve all known one, and some of us have been one – that negative coworker who finds fault with everyone. These “energy vampires” can be your employees, your peers, or your manager. No matter where they are in the organization, their main role is to be difficult, disagree with new ideas, and stop progress. They often see themselves as victims of you, the boss, the company, the weather, or even the current shoe fashions. They refuse to take responsibility for their actions, their poor performance, or the negative effects they have on others.
If you find yourself interacting with these individuals, beware. They will say they’re “just trying to get you to see all sides of an issue,” or that “someone needs to play devil’s advocate,” but the moment you engage their behavior, you’re hooked. You find yourself getting frustrated, stressed, and defensive. But there are three steps you can take to separate yourself from these naysayers. Take a look:
Know it’s not you, it’s him. Remind yourself that this confrontation has nothing to do with you personally. It’s this employee’s issue, and it wouldn’t matter to them if they were arguing with you, Michelle Obama, or Sherly Sandberg. They just want to argue for the sake of arguing.
Remove yourself. Disengage and resist the urge to connect by physically stepping away from thse individuals. Instead of responding to their claims, take a slow deep breath. At that point, instead of being their willing target, you’ve become the observer, and will be immune to their “negative rays.”
Stay focused. Don’t give up your power to walk away from your coworkers, and don’t give them your valuable energy. Don’t let their personalities affect you outside of work, and don’t let them live in your head rent free. Focus on you, your goals, and getting the support that you need to move forward. It’s your career, your future, and your success that concerns you most.