Surrounding yourself with negative people will change the lens through which you see the world. Just a single negative person's emotions are contagious and bring down everyone around them to the point that if you are not careful, you will become the person people avoid. Here are three reasons to cut negative people from your circle:
1. Lower productivity and work performance
2. Danger to mental health and work environment
3. Lead to negative decision-making
Most individuals can spot a negative person within the first couple weeks at a new job. According to Kusy and Holloway (2009), "a toxic personality is anyone who demonstrates a pattern of counterproductive work behaviors that debilitate individuals, teams, and even organizations over the long term" (p. 11). Once you get settled into your new workplace, you will quickly see who fits this description. Toxic people seek others to validate their negative outlook attempting to spread their perspective. If you fall victim to these perspectives, your work performance is at risk. However, a toxic person will have a pattern of negative behaviors. We all have bad days where we are not like our usual selves. The rare occurrence does not make you a negative person unless you become a danger to others mental health and the work environment.
The lens you see your work environment depends intensely on how you react to how people treat you. Negative people in the workplace make this much more difficult for your mental health. They drain others of energy and affect how you conduct business and mental mindset at work. However, as John Maxwell stated, "Life is 10% of what happened to me, and 90% how I react to it" (as cited in Chapman & White, 2014, p. 10). While there is no doubt that negative people can significantly affect the work environment, it only sticks if you allow it. For example, if a negative person wants to sit and complain about the boss, project, or various other topics, you can state that you have work to do and don't have time to hear them out right now in a polite manner. After you tell them this a couple of times, they will no longer come to you complaining because they want to be heard over anything. Furthermore, allowing them to continue their negative outlook toward you may lead to poor decision-making on your projects.
Everybody naturally wants to do an excellent job in their profession. Very rarely are people coming into work sabotaging projects by making poor decisions. Our responsibility is to put ourselves in the best mindset for maximizing creativity, innovation, and production. However, when negative people creep into our circle, our decision-making abilities will drastically decrease. According to Scott (2017), "Negative attitudes and behaviors can impair critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities, leading to poor decision-making and missed opportunities" (p. 1). As we allow negative people to spend more time around us, our ability to grow will significantly be at risk. Additionally, our supervisor may start to see the decline in our work hurting our chances of promotions, recognition, or growth opportunities. Most leaders quickly recognize the people who add the most value and those who are negatively affecting their culture.
A vital component for all of us is surrounding ourselves with people with our best interests and who bring a positive outlook. Negative people can significantly affect your productivity, mental health, and decision-making. These harmful types of people are not hard to spot, but they can be hard to deal with daily. But the real question we have to ask ourselves is whether people think about us when they hear toxic people?
Chapman, G., & White, P. (2014). Rising above a toxic workplace: Taking care of yourself in an unhealthy environment. Moody Publishers.
Kusy, M., & Holloway, E. (2009). Toxic workplace!: Managing toxic personalities and their systems of power. John Wiley & Sons.
Scott, J. (2017). The negative impact of negativity in the workplace. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/06/the-negative-impact-of-negativity-in-the-workplace