AUNT JOSEPHINE Bad work vibes.
WHEN SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE HAS A NEGATIVE ATTITUDE, IT CAN RAIN ALL OVER EVERYONE’S PARADE. BUT HOW CAN YOU STOP THEIR BAD VIBES AFFECTING YOUR DAY?
“NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO TOLERATE DAMAGING WORK RELATIONSHIPS”
Q“Dear Aunt Josephine, I am nding work a bit of a struggle lately, as my manager is a very negative person. He is someone who always sees the glass half empty and brings a dark cloud over him as soon as he enters the o ce. I’ve started to avoid asking him things like how his weekend was, as I know everything about it will be negative. I try to turn things around and keep my positive hat on but when
I am sat next to him for eight hours a day, ve days a week, it has become hard to keep a smile on my face. I often come home feeling quite down and negative myself. Have you got any advice you can give on how
I can stay positive under his grey cloud?”
Feeling down, Cornwall
A“Dear Feeling Blue, rst o I’d like to say that you sound like a lovely, positive person. The kind of feel-good, ‘always look on the bright side’ sort of human being who the rest of us like to be around. Those are amazing qualities and you must always remember to come back to them, no matter how others make you feel.
So how to deal with your negative manager? It’s a tricky one since a) it’s your job and b) you can’t complain to your manager, because he’s the problem. I once had a similar boss who a ected my life on a huge level. In my case, I soldiered on for months thinking that I couldn’t make a complaint, but in the end I went above my manager’s head and talked to their manager instead. The situation was then dealt with appropriately, and luckily my old manager ended up leaving anyway. But it did make me realise that we should never have to su er in silence, and that no one should have to put up with damaging relationships at work. It’s meant to be a professional environment with grown-ups, not somewhere to turn up and start acting in an unacceptable manner.
I would urge you to go to your next line manager, or to talk in con dence with the HR department. That’s what they are there for, after all. It’s not your problem to deal with, and the chances are, if you feel that way about him, others do too.
On an immediate daily level, how can you start to change things? Depending on how con dent you feel, you could make a light-hearted comment about how his comments or moods can bring you down sometimes. Being direct and asking, “You don’t seem very happy today, are you OK?”, can also be a great way of calling someone out. If you can’t do that, then keep things to a transactional level. If you don’t ask questions, you don’t get negative answers (as you have already learnt). Granted, this is not an ideal way to work long-term, but you need to protect yourself at the moment. Plus, if you reduce interaction with him, he might notice, and start making more of an e ort.
On a physical level, are you able to move desks in order to sit with more positive people? It might seem like a bold move, but your manager must be brought to account. A good manager should be an inspiration and a champion of you, not someone who brings you down or uses you as a toxic dumping ground. It’s not fair and you don’t need to put up with it.
Outside of work, don’t let him spoil your well-earned time o . See friends, have a laugh and do things that feel good and remind you of who you are. Negative people can have such a hugely draining e ect, but you don’t have to stand under his cloud with him, or take it with you when you leave work. Light always wins against the dark; you just have to learn how to build rock-solid defences.”
& author, Josephine Carnegie Journalist, life coachcounselling but is holds a certificate in holisticout good advice. best known for giving