I try to surround myself with positive, inspirational people and activities.
I avoid things like trashy reality shows and destructive relationships. These things are poison for the soul.
But what if you are exposed to this negativity in your work place? What happens when necessity puts you in contact with the things you avoid the most?
I worked in a school where it was common practice for teachers to get together and tell distasteful, dirty jokes to one another.
Sometimes I left work feeling extremely unmotivated and I just wanted to leave and never come back.
If you are in a similar situation, fret not. As a Catholic girl I constantly reminded myself that we are in the world but not of the world. That means that we are a part of this world so we must have normal lives. We must go to work and mingle. And why not tell a joke every once in a while?
That’s why I didn’t isolate myself.
But I also didn’t allow others to fill my mind with trash. I didn’t participate in conversations I knew were damaging to me and contrary to my beliefs.
In the beginning, when my co-workers were telling coarse jokes, I was quiet. I was among them but wasn’t laughing. Sometimes, I tried changing the subject or even attempted to tell lighter jokes.
To be quite honest, it didn’t work completely. Some people will always like dirty jokes and we might as well keep a safe distance from them, while always being polite and professional with all our co-workers.
After all, charity and good manners should always prevail.
But once, my co workers made a somewhat disturbing joke about Michael Jackson after he had died. I’m not a Michael Jackson fan, but I remember thinking “that’s not appropriate at all”. That was the defining moment.
After that day I didn’t participate on the jokes anymore. I still had to stay in the same room with all the teachers, but I was always working on something else or reading.
One day, another teacher came up to me and started talking. We became closer and were always talking about our own interests.
That’s when I realized that it’s better to have one positive relationship in your workplace than a whole group of co-workers making you feel uncomfortable.
I learned that I should try to influence others but sometimes there’s nothing to do but to walk away – even if it means walking away by yourself. It takes a lot of guts, but why should you dumb yourself down? It’s your prerogative to look for a positive work environment and you shouldn’t give in to what the majority thinks.
Have you ever worked in a negative place? How did you handle it?
Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr