Being Positive In A Negative Work Environment

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I love my job. That is, the one I leave the house for. I have done hair for more than 16 years, and most of those years were spent loyally working for the same company. Recently I started working for myself, which is one of the best decisions I have ever made! But in spite of the many positives, there can be a real dark side to working in the salon.

I have often heard the statement, “Whenever you get that many women working together, there is bound to be drama.” I don’t know if that is why the salon environment can tend to be so stressful and dramatic, or if it is due to the fact that the vast majority of management and owners in salons have zero business or management training.

Whatever the cause, I have seen more than my fair share of stress and drama over the years. I recently left the company I had worked the vast majority of my career for because of a negative, toxic work environment. But up and leaving a job and going into business for yourself isn’t a choice everyone has. So how can you stay positive in a negative work environment? 

Remember who you represent.

I remember watching a sermon by Rick Warren many years ago where he talked about going out as a teenager. Every time he left the house his dad would tell him, “Remember who you represent.” As in, do not embarrass this family.

As Christians, who do we represent? What is our primary function and calling on this planet? God did not place us here to fulfill our own happiness, he placed us here to represent him!

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” -Mark 16:15

When you go to work with the attitude of “Ugh, what is he/she (insert work nemesis here) going to do today?” you already have dread and negativity in your heart. When you go to work with the attitude that God has placed you on a mission field, and your most important job is to reach people, it shifts the perspective in a major way.

Do I do this all the time? Absolutely not. But it is definitely my goal.

Focus on what you can change.

In my last job there was one person in particular who was incredibly nasty to me. She had a very tumultuous, miserable personal life and it had seriously blackened her character. Phony does not begin to describe the act she put on in front of her clients, but behind closed doors she connived and schemed against people who were not her friends.

Unfortunately, the manager was a close friend of hers. So nothing was ever done about her behavior, no matter how viscous it was or how many corporate rules she violated.

That really ticked me off for a long time. Made me bitter. But there was nothing I could do to change it. I started just being pleasant to her when I had to have contact. Ignoring her when I could. It certainly didn’t make the situation stress free, but I stopped giving her so much control over my emotions. And eventually I decided that one thing I COULD change was where I worked, so I did!

Keep work at work, and home at home.

Ever get in a fight with your husband right before you walk out the door? Don’t bring that bad mood and negative energy to work with you. And likewise, if you have a stressful day at work, don’t go home and take it out on your family, or dwell on it all night.

Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it really is a learned behavior. Focus on TRYING to keep the two separate, and eventually it will become second nature.

Stop letting other people control your emotions.

This is a hard one for me. I am a sensitive person, and if there is tension in the room I am the first one to feel it. But by allowing everyone else’s moods to affect me, I am really handing over control of my emotions to them. I don’t want someone else to have that kind of control over me! 

I don’t have this completely under control, but when I do feel myself getting angry or upset over the way someone else is acting, I remind myself to take a deep breath, and let it go.

Work is such a huge part of our lives, it can be downright miserable if you aren’t happy there. But today I would encourage you to change what you can – your perspective. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much better your work day goes.

This is day 2 in the series 31 Days Of Learning To Be Positive. Click here to check out the entire series.

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Hi! I'm Melissa!

Melissa is a former hairstylist of 20 years who has a passion for living a simply creative life. She loves inspiring others to pick up a planner and get their lives organized, to clean out a closet and minimize their clutter, and to clean up their physical and mental space to lead their most fulfilled life. She is a wife, mom, and crazy dog lady who constantly rewatches The Office.

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