First, I have to say that it actually makes me sad that I’m writing this blog post. I never really thought I’d be giving advice on how to “thrive” or how to stay positive in a negative work environment, but someone literally asked me for a blog post on this and I received several other responses when I said I would be working on this blog post. So, here goes!
I feel very lucky that throughout several jobs in college and post-college, I’ve had some pretty awesome coworkers and overall, a positive experience at each job. They weren’t all perfect… there’s no such thing. But while I’m grateful that I look back and think of primarily good experiences, I can definitely think of some “challenges”, we’ll call them, as well.
So, if you deal with any challenges in the workplace, whether that’s with coworkers or individual customers, here are some things I’d encourage you to remember:
Stay in your own lane. If you’re dealing with cliques or groups of people that you DO NOT want to be around at work, don’t be afraid to stay far away and channel that free spirit inside of you. I’ve personally done this in work environments that I didn’t feel 100% comfortable in before. If you need to work alone, eat lunch alone, travel alone, etc. and you have the freedom to do so… take advantage of it! But, also remember: “your vibe attracts your tribe”! If you want to attract positive, hard working people to you, and you want to repel the negative ones, make sure your personality reflects what you want to attract!
Wear headphones. If you’re in an environment where it’s okay to wear headphones, turn on your favorite music or favorite podcast to play lightly while you’re working. I used to do this ALL THE TIME. I know it sounds simple, but music and podcasts are a gamechanger. Anything to help tune out negative thoughts, negative words from others, or annoying background noise!
Get outside or walk around the building on lunch breaks. This is another thing I used to do all the time! Sometimes, I would literally just go sit in my car and eat so I could be totally alone and I could catch up on calls, emails, social notifications, etc. without being distracted by others. This was also during the time when I was working like a madwoman to grow my business so I could go full-time. 🙂 And that “work time” during lunch breaks definitely paid off!
Focus on constantly improving yourself. While others around you may be complaining or engaging in gossip, you should use that time to sharpen your skills, listen to a motivational podcast or YouTube video, or read your favorite book or blog. Prioritizing personal development will help you get better and better at ignoring the negativity or whatever is bothering you at work. I have a blog post on my favorite podcasts HERE!
Find a solution. Is the problem you’re dealing with something you could actually change or at least help to inspire a change? Could you talk to HR or a supervisor you trust to help you get to the bottom of the issue? Or provide a new solution? If so, be a leader and step up to the challenge.
If you’re able to decorate your workspace at all, I highly recommend it! I had pictures of friends and family, inspiring quotes, thank you notes, and fun little trinkets all around my work environments in the past (and still do!) and I truly think it helped. If I were to be having a rough day at work, and then I’d look around and see photos of my dogs, family, and other items that provoked good vibes or good memories, it really helped to remind me of my purpose and push me to stay positive. I even had a “SMILE folder” where I would keep nice emails, funny memories between coworkers, etc. just to help get me through any negative moments.
Just do your job and know that you’re really just there to make money. Put your head down and do what you need to do to pass the time. If it helps you, think about the gratitude you’ll have when that next paycheck comes. Will it pay for an upcoming trip to see family and friends? Will it pay for a new outfit you can’t wait to get? Will it help you pay off your student loans so you can finally have some financial freedom? Try to focus on the GOOD that comes from your job or your income from it.
Fake it til you make it. If you work your hardest to be the most POSITIVE, uplifting, cheerful person in the room (even when you’re not feeling it on the inside), that can rub off on others and eventually improve the environment. Be resilient and show that you’re not phased by drama, negativity, or anything going “wrong” in your work environment. Oftentimes, “reacting” to negativity can just add fuel to the fire. You can only control YOUR attitude and YOUR outlook. Be resilient to everything else, friend.
Don’t bring it home with you. When you step out of your office or workplace, know that your work day is over and now you have a few hours left to channel something POSITIVE in your life and enjoy the rest of the day. Do you have a hobby or side business you want to pour your hard work and energy into once you leave your primary work environment?! I truly believe this can help A LOT. If you don’t have a hobby or side business, just do SOMETHING that will help you get your mind off of a poor work day. Watch your favorite movie, go to the gym, call your best friend, or blast some of your favorite tunes and clean the house. There is no sense in dwelling on it for the rest of the day.
ULTIMATELY, remember this… life is too short to stay in a negative work environment if it truly takes a toll on your physical and mental health. I’m willing to bet there are LOTS of different options out there for you if you wanted to get out of this negative work environment. Don’t be afraid to think “untraditionally” and be creative.
There are millions of side hustles and online jobs you could explore to not only earn some extra income, but to truly have something to look forward to and find joy in after your traditional work hours. Be encouraged and know that there are better days to come!
If you have any other helpful tips for someone who may be in a negative work environment, can you leave them below in the comment section? I’d love to hear your ideas!
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