Archive for November, 2013

How To Get Along With the Negative People

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

When working as an undercover FBI agent, one of the most difficult aspects of the job was learning how to get along with negative people I met during my assignment. Often, I was forced to spend time with people who felt trapped by their life and blamed others for their situation.

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Let me define a negative person: someone who hates hard work, refuses to accept responsibility for their failures, and has no desire to improve themselves.

I have always been picky about the friends I have chosen, and made a concerted effort to surround myself with amazing people who uplifted, energized, and encouraged those around them. I have always known that the people with whom I surround myself will either make or break my success.

My undercover experiences made me realize that many people go to work everyday and find themselves surrounded with colleagues and associates who are losers—people who are depressed, unhappy, frustrated, or angry about their situation in life.

I quickly discovered that it takes mental toughness to walk into the same situation day after day and face the negative attitudes of others, while at the same time, not let it rub off on me. In my undercover capacity, I had to find ways of getting along with the people I met without becoming depressed or frustrated myself.

Here are 4 things to understand if you want to get along with negative people:

1. Catch the Right Attitude

Negative attitudes catch on more easily than positive ones. The reason is that our survival-driven, limbic system in the brain has kept us safe for centuries by alerting us to negative information warning us of danger. Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than positive stimuli. Social psychologists explain that negative information is like velcro while positive information is like teflon. Negativity is stickier; we take it more seriously and pay more attention to it.

Tip: We do not need to run from negative information because it creates anxiety or fear in us. Do not let the negativity of others affect your well-being. Instead, divert resources that were previously dedicated to experiencing a negative emotion by doing the following:

  • write in a journal
  • focus on a positive thought for 20 seconds or more
  • talk it through with a trusted friend

These activities will move you from the emotional to the thinking part of the brain.

2. Groupthink is Strong

Once a negative synergy develops within a work environment, it’s tough to break the culture that’s been established. Groupthink is strongly associated with survival. Expressing contrary views or behavior supported, and sometimes encouraged, by leadership places us at risk of being ostracized.

Tip: Walk into work everyday understanding that your co-workers and colleagues are heavily influenced by the message sent from leadership. We tend to give more heft to messages delivered from people in authority, so if you’re trying to bring positivity into the conversation, you must be seen as a person of influence.

3. Positive Mental Chatter is Key

The way in which we speak to ourselves is one of the best indicators of our chances of success. Our mental chatter is up to 70% negative. This negativity bias is a psychological phenomenon that programs us to avoid negative experiences in the future.

We often assume that a person’s  overt attitude, buoyed by their positive language, is an accurate indication of their mental chatter. However, studies have shown that behavior is a far more reliable predictor of what a person is really thinking than the words they speak. People can appear positive on a superficial level by the language they use, but their loser behavior is a far more telling indicator of what is going on inside their head.

Tip: When surrounded by negative people, either verbally or through their behavior, we need to recognize when their negativity affects our own mental chatter. Research has shown that we say between 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every minute. By training yourself to speak and think positively, you can “override fears” that are stimulated by the continual negativity of others.

4. Maintain a Positive and Realistic Attitude

Researchers have drilled down into the science of positivity, and while Normal Vincent Peale quotes may seem trite to some, there is ample evidence to suggest that maintaining a positive attitude can make the difference between surviving in your circumstances or thriving in a world that you create.

Positivity is the ability to look reality in the face and not flinch. It is not sugar-coated phrases or optimism that insists circumstances will change.

Tip: Often, your circumstances will not change and you must decide how you will continue to move forward anyway. Positivity is believing your destiny is in your hands.

Be an example to the negative people around you by helping them identify what they are good at and encourage them to focus on those positive qualities. Once they do, they may begin believing they are more than passive observers in their own life.

Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude toward us.”~John N. Mitchell

How do you deal with negative people?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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4 Ways To Be In Control of Your Life

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Early in life, I made a decision to be in control of my career. I decided I wanted to work for the Foreign Service so I could travel and live an exciting life. I applied but didn’t pass the foreign language aptitude test. I refused to let this stop me from pursuing my path; I wanted to live an exciting life, so I turned my attention toward the FBI.


Within six months I was hired as an FBI agent—a record in speedy recruitment. The average waiting list is three years. I had people walk up to me and say, “You were very lucky.” But no, I don’t think so.

It’s not that I don’t believe luck doesn’t exist; it’s just that I think it can be created and controlled. Luck happens when we seize opportunities to improve ourselves and our situation. It definitely doesn’t happen if we silently wait and hope for our lives to change.

I wanted to be in control of where I took my life—not a passive spectator. Things don’t always go according to plan. My experience with the Foreign Service is only one example of where life has not always unfolded in the direction or manner that I wanted. When disappointments, roadblocks, barriers, or obstacles kept me from my path, I took them as opportunities to re-evaluate both my plan and my options.

If you are a startup or business owner, it is impossible to be in control of markets, competition, and economic downturns. But this is exactly when you need to be in control of your own emotions, thoughts, and behavior so you can manage them in ways that will allow you to keep moving forward. In other words, you need mental toughness.

Here are 4 ways you can be in control of your own life:

1. Beware Of Goals

We live in a very goal-oriented society. Once we achieve our goal we feel terrific, but then there is the realization that we have just lost the thing that gives us direction. Goals are temporary and temporal; they can be too rigid to change with circumstances. If we’re too wedded to them, we won’t be able to adapt to those changes.

If I’d continued to beat my head against the closed door at the Foreign Service, I would have gained nothing but blood and bruises. That is not mental toughness; it’s being stupid.

Instead, hitch your heart to your purpose. Your purpose will not change, even if your circumstances do. You will always find a way to connect with your purpose: your beliefs, values, and priorities. When confronted with obstacles, keep your eye on your purpose but be prepared to let go of your vision of an immediate goal in order to get there. Other, more expansive goals might become available as you move forward.

2. Remain Positive

Living on a cattle ranch, I had a couple of different options on how I looked at cow turds. Either something to be avoided, or something to be used. When dry, they make excellent frisbees, and they are also dynamite fertilizer for the garden!

If you are positive about the events in your life, you are more alert to the possibilities that whiz around you everyday. People who are positive and in good moods actually take in more visual information, while those in bad moods don’t see as much around them.

Always look for opportunities. Luck happens because you’re motivated to take the steps necessary to succeed. You make it easier for luck to find you because you are more open to life’s forking paths, and see possibilities that others miss.

3. Develop Flexibility

Luck tends to smile on folks who have a more relaxed approach to life. They have clarity of purpose and don’t worry too much about the details. For example, rather than aiming to become the top cardiac surgeon at John Hopkins, they vow to be a doctor who helps save lives.

Once you have pinpointed the direction you want your life to go and attached your heart to your purpose, there are many different ways to get there. Goals can be good, but don’t let them interfere with the direction your heart is telling you to go.

4. Move Out Of Your Shell

Researchers have found that people who call themselves lucky are more likely to be extroverts. Because they are curious about others, they are more likely to have opportunities present themselves since they not only meet lots of new people, they also keep in touch with a larger group of friends.

Whether or not you are an extrovert, you can still be curious about your environment and the people around you. Inquisitiveness is one of the most important traits of mental toughness. It is having the curiosity to see beyond your current circumstances so you can create your own luck and move forward.

Control your own luck by seizing opportunities to improve your life and situation. The result will either be a lucky break or the regret of a road not taken.

What would you add? How do you take control of your own life?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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