Lately I’ve encountered an array of ‘temperamental personalities’ within workplaces where I’ve been contracting; nice, intelligent, motivated people, but prone to breeding ill-feelings due to ongoing ‘bad days’ and in some cases, weeks!
One such example: a magazine designer, Anna, all of a sudden got very moody and sullen at work a few weeks back, to the point where she was obviously being very short with other staff (women, in particular). The primary-school-esque behaviour was not something I’d expect in a professional adult setting, but it seemed to me things were happening at home that were being brought into the office (not necessarily professional, but it happens). What followed was also fairly immature − other team members began gossiping about what Anna’s ‘problem’ was, and in turn ended up feeling miserable themselves. After a few weeks, Anna seemed to move on from her moodiness, but one other on the team, Kelly, has taken it all to heart. She’s harbouring resentment, and now this workplace’s communications team aren’t as communicative as they deserve to be.
None of us are immune to getting involved in this kind of thing. We’ve all got clients, friends, bosses and co-workers who are occasionally (or consistently!) moody and pessimistic, and it only takes one snarky word on a bad day, or a rude snub when we’re doing our best to smile in the first place, for a ‘snap’ to take place, and then the spiral downwards begins. I’m sure you can appreciate that awful feeling, when things go from bright and bubbly in a relationship(s), to strained and cold. It’s awful, and incredibly difficult when it happens in a space where you’re forced to spend a lot of time.
All this negativity can be draining, but after a couple of weeks witnessing what was happening amongst this otherwise-nice group of people, it occurred to me that it wasn’t (and mostly never is) the actions of the person being a bitch/in a bad mood/having a rubbish day/acting like a negative Nancy, that makes a room dull with downer energy. It is actually, us, or accurately, those who play into someone else’s problem, and make it a bigger issue than it needs to be.
We may like some co-workers, clients, sales reps, consultants and supervisors we more than others, and that’s ok. But inevitably, a lot of time is spent together as we each toil to generate income, so what if we were to choose to focus on defusing dark situations rather than simply focussing ON the situation alone.
Here’s what I’ve learned │ co-working karma
- Let it go; everyone has ‘their thing’ going on.
- Be forgiving (it’s more pleasant than being resentful).
- Practice kindness – often that’s the ingredient missing in others’ lives.
- Don’t be afraid to instigate peace – grudges are so last decade.
- Choose better thoughts; the more you worry about the issue, the bigger it becomes.
- Devise ways for your team to get-together socially – a relaxed, fun out-of-work environment can put people at ease, assisting individuals to move past office-related issues.
As always, two choices exist. We can spend time being bummed about a situation or someone’s bad attitude; or we can bring light and a little love to the experience. It’s as easy as starting with ourselves, and considering whether or not we’re taking ownership of the energy, actions, attitude and beliefs we are individually putting forward.
If you’re currently having difficulties in your work life, try this before reacting defensively or destructively: think kindly towards those causing you grief. In your mind, wish them a day as nice as you hope yours will be, and try to get into this kinder mindset before setting foot in the office or into the meeting you’ve been dreading. It’s easy to forget that everyone has their own thing going on, and that it’s up to us to each show up with grace, gratitude, and a tidied-up attitude. With this in mind, it could be you who singlehandedly brings warmth to cold times.
By Sarah Blinco. Originally published, Get it Magazine, June 2015