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Sick of negativity

Dear Asad,

I am a 25 years old guy who just started working in a multinational company a few months ago. This is my first job after completing my studies. I have started at a good post and the future prospects look very promising.

There is one problem though. The culture of my workplace is quite negative. There are many negative people in my office who are always grumbling and complaining about something or the other. I like my work, I enjoy it and have no reason to complain about anything or feel negative about my company. But the constant complaining of other is getting me down and I have begun to feel stressed. I definitely don’t want to leave this job as there are many opportunities for me in this company but at the same time I don’t want to stay and work in the current negative work environment. What should I do? Shall I complain about these negative people to my senior manager? Do you think that would be helpful?

Sick of Negativity

Dear Sick of Negativity,

The moods and thinking of negative people are pervasive – nervous energy, anger, sadness, complaints, and clinginess – a view of the world constantly tinged with negativity. And if you happen to be caught up with negative people daily in your life, by letting their negativity get to you, it can erode your own sense of self and deflate even the most optimistic outlook. Constant negative emotions can lead to illness and a shortened lifespan – negative people are not healthy for themselves or for you. And since misery loves company, miserable people will try to drag you into their fold; however, take charge of defending yourself and learn how to break free from negative attitudes around you, to sustain your healthy, fulfilling, and optimistic outlook.

The atmosphere in your workplace is negative. This negativity can be because of varied reasons but it will have an impact on you because on the average an individual spends about 40 to 60% of time during weekdays at work place. Here are few steps to deal with negativity at workplace:

  1. Look into the reasons for the current situation. The reasons can be because of external influences like unhealthy competition, bullying by colleagues at work place, unsupported boss, difficult client, technical issues etc. You can visit the sequence of incidents which had led to the situation. Jotting down the points or incidents will help you analyse the situation. Also this jotted list can be used for discussion with the people concerned.
  2. Try to get to know negative people a little better. Talk to them. May be they are not aware of it. Make them aware of it. Ask them why they are so negative. People who are negative usually have self issues, such as confidence or low self esteem. Talk to them and ask them what’s wrong, and find a way you can work around their negativity.
  3. Try to bring positivity in their life. Perhaps there is something that you could do that would make them happy and not be so negative. Find out what that is and if possible, do it.
  4. Listen selectively when engaging in any conversation. Seek to hold onto the positive and constructive aspects of any conversation. Train your mind to consciously throw out the bad essence of the conversation. It becomes a matter of choosing what it is you wish to dwell on; allow the good side to hold stronger for you and to serve as the thoughts you focus and ponder on. When a negative person starts getting really trying, return positive energy through positive words or suggestions that are supportive. Doing this creates a space between you; while the other person may be internally struggling to refute to your positive insistence, it is clear to them that you aren’t going to be won over to the dark side!
  5. If all else fails then avoid them. Ignore negativity. For example, if you are at work and you are in a group and they start going on about how bad the job is, just walk away or listen to some music instead. Disengage yourself from their company politely by minimizing contact until a healthy distance can be maintained. You need this time to ponder and reflect on saving and preserving yourself, drawing on the optimism, hope and positive energy you have within.
  6. Remind yourself (silently) that you are a wonderful, unique, kind, helpful, special person. Keep repeating this to yourself in your head as you talk to that person.
  7. Remember to realise that just because someone else is negative does not mean that you have to be. Realize that your life is positive and that you are in control of your emotions. Do not let their negativity rub off on you. Maintain a positive attitude no matter what.

Talking to your senior manager could help but do it in a tactful way. Instead of downright complaining about the negative people in your office, suggest ways to make the atmosphere more positive in your office. You could do this by volunteering to organise a workshop on positivity. You could call in an expert who can come in and give helpful tips on how to avoid negativity and be more positive in life. Not only would this be helpful in improving the atmosphere in your office, you would also get credited as being someone who is proactive and encourages a good working environment; qualities that senior management is always looking for in their employees.



Shall I take my son to a psychologist?

Dear Asad,

I am a 37 years old widow with four kids, living in Dubai. My late husband passed away around seven years ago. He had a heart attack while watching TV one evening with my eldest son who was nine years old. He died on the spot – in front of my son.  Obviously this was a tremendous loss for us all and we were devastated. But my son, who witnessed his father die in front of his eyes, took it the hardest. To date he has not recovered from the shock. He acts and behaves normally but has acquired serious behavioural issues, both at school and home. He has become extremely aggressive towards his younger siblings and shouts at them and beats them up regularly. This in turn has led to his siblings being afraid of him now. When he is in the house they try to stay away from him. Their fear of him is now beginning to negatively affect their behavior too. They have become stressed and fearful. They don’t want to be near him at all. They hover around me when I am at home with them and don’t want to be left alone with their elder brother.

In school, it’s even worse. He has lost all interest in studies. He has become unruly and aggressive there too. He gets in trouble daily at school and I often am called to his school because of his troublesome behavior. He is disrespectful to his teachers and tries to bully other kids. This more often than not leads to fights between him and other students, many of whose parents have rightfully lodged strict complaints against him. As he has been studying at this school since kindergarten, they know about the passing away of his father and how he was traumatised by experiencing his father’s death.  They have been very caring and supportive but now even they have grown exasperated and have given a final warning that he would be expelled if he got into any more trouble.

I simply don’t know what to do with him now. I have tried everything. I have tried talking to him lovingly, I have tried being strict, I have involved his grandparents, I also involved his teachers but nothing has worked. I now have been advised by a very close friend that it might help if I take him for professional counseling to a psychologist but I am not comfortable with that. Considering taking my son to a psychologist makes me feel as if he’s mad or something. He is not mad. He is just disturbed. I really don’t want to take him to a psychologist but my friend advises it very strongly. What do you suggest? What should I do? Will taking him to a psychologist help? And what about the stigma associated going to a psychologist in our society? I really am confused. I don’t know what to do.

Confused Mother

Dear Confused Mother,

You definitely must have had and still must be going through a tough time after the passing away of your husband. I am sorry to hear about how your eldest son witnessed the death of his father at such a young age. No doubt, it has traumatised him exceedingly. It seems, by your description of his behaviour and actions, that he has been unable to overcome that experience. It’s still very much inside him and most probably will always remain there. But what needs to be done is to find a way for him to deal with it and try to overcome it so he could move on with his life without feeling traumatised.

I totally agree with the suggestion of your friend about taking your son to a psychologist. That would hopefully be good for him. A psychologist would be able to help your son in ways that you or anyone else has so far not been able to do so. Psychologists are educated and trained to deal with issues like this. They have greatly benefited people who have been traumatised in one way or the other after a tragedy, something which your son is going through. Psychologists help people in letting go and moving on with their lives in a positive manner.

As for your reservations about the social stigma associated with psychologists, I don’t agree with that. That might have been true a couple of decades ago, and that too in a few narrow-minded societies, but it no longer holds true. It’s only your thinking that makes you believe that. I would urge you, as a mother, to rise above that and help out your son by taking him to a psychologist.

Besides, what’s more important to you? That your son recovers completely from the tragic experience of seeing his father pass away before his life and live a normal life? Or the fact that you believe it’s a matter of shame or mental illness that one visits a psychologist? Do him and yourself a favour and take him to a psychologist.

All the best!