Overcoming the Negativity


There’s no denying that teaching is an incredibly stressful profession, so it’s only logical to assume that there can be a lot of negativity floating around in the teacher’s lounge.  I made the decision early in my career to avoid spending much time in those environments because I am not interested in gossip or being around people who enjoy it.


Sometimes there are people who carry the constant raincloud around with them no matter where they go, so it makes avoiding the negativity even harder.  This is an ever bigger Houdini act when the person or people are in your department or on your team.  So how do you avoid being pulled down when you’re constantly surrounded by a Negative Nancy?

Five Tips for Avoiding the Gloom & Doom

1.  Stop it before it gets rolling. 

If you know that there are certain people or topics that are going to bring on the cynicism, find ways to shut it down or avoid it.  Come up with a few phrases that are not going to offend anyone, but are game stoppers.


  • “Oh yah, that’s definitely not fun, but you know what is?!?”
  • “I’m sorry that you’re dealing with that, but maybe this will help distract you from it…”
  • “I know that there are things that we don’t like about this task, but let’s put it on the shelf and deal with this instead…”

2.  Listen to something inspirational

I’m far from a sentimentalist, but sometimes a few properly phrased words can be the difference between giving in and trying again.  The clip below is one of my favorite new slam poets/performers, Anis Mojgani.  This is his performance of, “Shake the Dust.”

3.  Get busy, real fast

When that particular person that sees the world as a half-empty glass comes your way and you know that they’re going to start in how awful life is, you have to avoid getting sucked into their trap.  By having a task to complete, a bathroom to visit, or a meeting to attend, you can quickly walk away from them without hurting their feelings.  Eventually they are going to get the hint that you’re too busy to be brought down.

Get busy with:

“I’d love to talk, but I have to…

  • …go make these copies.
  • …visit the Little Girls room.
  • …meet with __________.
  • …run out to my car.

4.  There’s too many squares in your circle

Early on in a professional relationship, it’s easy to welcome people in with open arms as you’re getting to know them only to find out that you’ve got a Debbie Downer on your hands.  By now you’ve exchanged phone numbers and have become texting buddies, maybe you’ve even become friends on social media and you’re bombarded by their diatribes about how much they hate, well, everything!  What can you do?  It would be rude to defined them or stop responding to their texts.

  • Next time, be more discerning about buddying up before you know what type of personality you have on your hands
  • If you’re on Facebook, you can always hide their feed, avoiding the commentary.  It may be passive aggressive, but you’re avoiding hurt feelings.
  • Ensure that if you’re going to participate in activities, you do so as a group, not just one-on-one

5. Make your intentions public

Sometimes a simple conversation can solve all the problems.  You don’t have to directly call out anyone about being the fly in your bowl of soup, but you can make statements such as:

  • “I’ve made a decision!  I am tired of feeling bad about this person/coming to work/working on this project.  I am only going to focus on the silver lining.  Let’s do it together to avoid the burnout!”
  • “I’m on a roller coaster that’s only going up.” (Thank you Augustus Waters and John Green)
  • “I feel as though I’m being too harsh about _______.  I want to change my point of view so that I can be happier.”
  • “Let’s do a negativity cleanse!”

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