Don’t Let Negativity Get You Down

When you’re in school, maintaining a positive, collegial attitude will contribute to your success

As humans we’re social animals. We are naturally drawn to one another, and interact as a way of learning, growing, and evolving. But when you’re in a group, such as a class, it can be easy to get distracted by the negative attitude of even just one or two members. But you don’t need to let your school experience be impacted  by how those individuals choose to be. You can rise above it, and stay focused on your own good work and building relationships that you value.

Here are some suggestions for ways to “stay out of the fray,” when people around you are contributing to a school environment that is less than positive.

Stay focused on your own work
It’s a waste of energy to try to compete with anyone else. There’s no reason for you to know anyone else’s grades. If someone confides in you that they’re having trouble in school, it’s nice to be supportive. But if you think you need competition to spur you to do your best, remember: Once you’re in a job, you’ll need to able to work collectively and collaboratively, as a team.

Be the welcoming one
Is there someone in your class who seems isolated? Why not be the welcoming friend, instead of the highly selective friend? If you think you have nothing in common with someone, it’s probably because you don’t know them well enough yet. If you spend a little time, and are open-minded, you might find things about them that you did not expect. Sometimes having a set group of friends can be limiting to our own growth.

Re-channel the urge to gossip
There tends to be a lot of endless chatter about people’s personal lives going around a school. It’s tempting to join in, but this can be addictive and ultimately toxic. You’ll find that there are other activities that feed you a lot more: making an effort to make new friends, reaching out to someone who could use some support, or taking on a project or volunteer activity to help a cause or a person in need. If someone gossips to you, you can either tell them you’re not interested or politely let them finish, and then simply change the subject. They’ll get the hint.

Keep things in perspective
One important lesson that you learn with life experience is that other people’s negativity is all about them (usually them needing to feel better about themselves) and not really about you at all. So try to ignore it. If you hear something someone said about you, and need to tell a trusted friend how it makes you feel, that’s okay. But then try to move on, and ask them not to repeat what you’ve told them. (That only fans the flame.) Surround yourself with people who are kind and generous towards you, and let the rest take care of itself. You’re in school to prepare yourself for a satisfying career, so don’t get distracted by other people’s drama—no matter how common a practice that may be!

We hope these suggestions are useful as you navigate your time in school. You may find they’re helpful in family and work situations as well. We don’t always have as many positive role models for this kind of affirming, principled behavior as we do for the negative types. You might have to be the role model in your own peer group or class—but the benefits outweigh the burden. You’ll see!

This article is part of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health. We care about all of our students, as they strive to meet their personal as well as professional goals. Reach out to us for more information about the number of career training programs we offer.

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