Are you a bad influence?

Is anyone around you a negative person or bad influence?

It is easy to look around your workplace and know who the “problem” people are. They are quite easy to identify from a distance. If there is a “bad egg” in your group then you probably have quite a good idea of who it is and there may have even been discussion behind that person’s back as to what they should do to start being a more positive contributor to the team.

But have you ever put yourself under the same scrutiny?

It is within the nature of most of us to forgive any minor indiscretions that we make while holding others to unreasonable account for similar things. So for the rest of this article try and examine your own actions and see how many of these categories apply to you…

Negative conversations

Almost every situation in the workforce can be looked at through a negative or positive lens – and it’s up to you to decide how you’ll view something. A person who is a bad influence will have many conversations about “what is wrong with this place” and “who needs to be replaced”.

In addition to this you can expect this person to be very quick to spread news of tough economic news, or potential job cuts – but much slower to spread the word about successful projects, campaigns and congratulatory discussions. Take a second to think through the conversations you’ve had in the workplace today or the last few days – how many of them have been of a positive nature? How many have been based around complaining?

Lateness, corner cutting, general demeanour

If you are in a position of leadership, corner cutting behaviours will spread like the common cold through your team. If you turn up to the office late, or skip meetings, carry a heavy mood around, treat people with impatience and ignore the needs of others then you can guarantee the other members of your team, and potentially your peers will also do the same. Most of these acts are minor, but you need to keep in mind that every single behaviour in the workplace contributes to the culture of the organisation you’re in. Make sure that you are contributing positively to the attitude climate around your office.

If you are not in a leadership position your actions still influence all of those around you. These actions cause tension within the team and your boss will be acutely aware of them. You may think these things are going unnoticed because nobody is saying anything – but rest assured that your office is a microcosm where small acts can have a big impact, particularly on the overall perception of your effectiveness.

Do you serve your own interests at the expense of others?

Self-protective behaviour can have a negative impact on your career. This is counter-intuitive, but also very important to understand. When the economic climate is a little stormy, or there is a competitive situation with a co-worker, you will quickly bring yourself undone if you actively work to protect yourself against perceived harm.

Acting self-protectively may include over-stating your achievements, claiming others’ achievements as your own, limiting bold activities in favour of “safe” projects or talking down the achievements of others. These are all ways of making yourself look better at the expense of other people. The reality is that the best thing for you and your career is to show some leadership and work more corroboratively with those around you. Not only will the team-mindedness make your boss smile, but it will also produce better results, much better than you would be able to achieve in isolation.

So take some time out to stop and review your own behaviour, your phone calls, your emails, your thoughts and your mood contribution.

Eve Ash is currently working on a new series called SWITCH ON to help managers and staff reassess their own thinking patterns. She has produced a wide range of video resources for communication effectiveness.

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