The Soul Suckers

“I try so hard to stay positive but there’s this one person…”

I’ve heard this a few times within the last week, which says to me that more than a few people are thinking it on a regular basis. And angst around this subject is understandable. It can be very demoralizing when you come to work in the morning with your strong work ethic and your good attitude and the person next to you is determined to do as little as possible. The situation becomes even more problematic if:

  1. This other person never receives consequences for his/her actions (or is even seemingly rewarded for the behavior)
  2. The other person’s actions directly affect your own work flow because you’re expected to pick up the slack
  3. You tend to listen to the other person’s complaints and just by being in their presence you feel yourself being “dragged down”

Does any of this sound familiar? How do you handle a situation like this?

The first trick to improving the situation is to realize that you’re not a victim. No one can take advantage of you without your explicit or implicit permission.  The other thing is, your chances of changing this “soul sucking” person are slim to none, unless that person is actually ready to make a change.

Because you are always in charge of your own actions (and no one else’s)  if you’ve been covering for this person or taking on some of their work you could simply stop.

Many of us don’t enjoy conflict and try to avoid it at all costs, but there is a difference between picking a fight and standing up for yourself. Years ago I remember reading something about how no one can treat you like a doormat without your permission, and that maxim rings as true today as it was then.

If you’re concerned about “rocking the boat” in your workplace with this “line in the sand” then I suggest talking to a supervisor first. Do it without blame or emotion, in a matter-of-fact way.  If your supervisor isn’t supportive or doesn’t see the problem, you may be in a toxic workplace. If that is the case the problem is bigger than your co-worker, and you could even thank them for providing a warning sign that it might be time to get out and move on.

The same general tactics go for a very negative person who is always pointing out the bad side of everything and “bringing you down.”

First, you have to realize that in 99% of the cases the problem is them, not you. Many people with a negative predisposition also have an uncanny ability to sense weakness in others, much like a bully does. As with setting boundaries with your job, it is also your responsibility to protect your personal “head space”. You can do all kinds of work on yourself, on positive thinking and manifesting the life you’ve been dreaming of, and then with one conversation one of these negative people can push you back over the edge into fear and doubt.

The solution may be simply to find new friends. If the toxic person is a spouse or relative that you would like to maintain a relationship with you may have to come up with ground rules for conversations together. If they can’t adhere to the “rules” they may not value the relationship, and at that point it is up to you to decide how you want to proceed, but be aware that the price of not protecting your head space is high.

Many of us understand the premise that thoughts become things, and with that in mind it is clear that the repercussions are high for allowing negative thoughts to invade your mental space.

The bottom line to all of this is, what you choose to tolerate is up to you. Awareness is the first step, then setting up a few boundaries can help to completely change your entire experience.

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