The end of term is approaching and the Christmas spirit is in full flow - so has it brought with it a sense of fun and merriment where you work? I hope so, because it’s often at this time of year that people let their guard down a little, attend Christmas parties and start to look forward to a well earned break.
Surrounding yourself with positive people is not always easy though!
You may have heard the saying ‘You are the average of the five people you spend most time with’. Now, I know this does not always follow through, but consider who you spend most time out of the classroom talking to. Are they positive about the students, their job, the school? If they are not, it is likely that this will have an impact on you and your feelings towards your work.
I get that it’s not easy to select who you spend your time with when you are in a department and share space with colleagues. But, I do know that it is possible to take some steps to lessen the impact on you and hopefully, maybe, even make a positive impact on them.
Don’t be the one to start it.
Even if you were just hoping for a debrief or a quick outlet of some frustration, if you do this with people prone to negative talk and complaining, then it is like opening the floodgates. They just can’t help it and they don’t even know they are doing it. But you can stop yourself. Do not start the negative chatter with negative people.
Notice it is happening
It has probably become such a habit, that you have engaged in the negative chatter before you even realise it’s happening. Turn on your radar - once you see what direction it’s heading in, it is time to act.
You need a strategy to get out of a conversation that has turned to ceaseless and unproductive complaining. The best tactic is to derail with some positive news. “Did you hear x, y, z” or if you know they are far too involved to take this bait, then excuse yourself with a… “I’m sorry, I’ve just remembered, I’ve got to go and sort something out”. Walk away, even if it's just down the corridor and back. You just need to break the moment. This is not about lying or even having to make stuff up. The sentence above is completely true. You’ve just remembered how unhealthy it is for you to listen to this stuff in your valuable free time and you need to go and sort out your head!
You’re not helping them
Walking away from complaining colleagues is not rude, selfish or unjustified. If everybody did it then there would be no one left complaining and image how much happier your department would be! Take the lead, not just for your sake but because by listening and probably engaging, you do not help others either.
It can be hard to find Positive Teachers to engage with
Optimism and realism can go hand in hand. Being positive is not all ‘rose tinted’ glasses! We can learn to be happier and more positive. It really is a habit. That is what the Positive Teacher Network is all about. I am creating a network of teachers that want to find positive, proactive solutions to problems not ignore them or pretend everything is fine. The aim is to increase wellbeing and positive emotion by learning specific strategies and techniques that are easy to apply at work and at home. Being part of the network will give you access to other teachers who also desire to think differently, to find other positive teachers and support each other through your careers, in what is, at times a difficult, yet rewarding profession.
Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.