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How to Stop Negativity from Spreading at Work

How to Stop Negativity from Spreading at Work

With the release of his new book — The Jackass WhispererScott Stratten is on a mission to put an end to jackassery. A self-proclaimed expert in the matter, he shares strategies to help us deal with the worse people, even when those worse people are us. As Scott says, the first step to not being the jackass at work is to realize that we are all the jackass from time to time.

Scott has first-hand experience at being a jackass at work. In an article for the Business Insider, he, along with his co-author and wife, Alison, share the time Scott worked as a sales trainer for a packaging company. He was responsible for traveling around North America teaching others to sell bubble wrap.

When his yearly evaluation was coming up, he was pretty sure that he was going to be fired — he wasn’t what you would call a stellar employee. But, when the time came his boss applauded his work and gave him a $5,000 raise.

In shock, Scott went back to his desk and fired off an email to his wife that said, “Not only did I not get fired, I got a raise! It’s going to be hard to do less this coming year, but I’m going to give it a shot! I work for idiots.”

After hitting send, a wave of panic hit Scott as he realized he accidentally sent this email to his boss instead of his wife. While wildly searching for the mythical “unsend” button, Scott’s boss walked by and said it was the funniest email he’d ever read. While he got away with it, Scott knew that was a jackass move.

Our workplaces are filled with jackasses, writes Scott. You know the ones — the slackers who still get raises, the loud typers, overzealous meeting holders, the ones who never make more coffee or add more paper to the printer, etc. People have two reactions when faced with this “jackassery” behaviour: They either emulate it and spread the negativity or become a “whisperer” and stop the bad behaviour in its tracks. It’s how we react to these minor daily frustrations, writes Scott, that can shape the attitude within an office, and the way we interact with each other.

“We all need to be jackass whisperers — snuffing out the purveyors of pet peeves before their attitudes spread.”

Scott shared two examples from The Jackass Whisperer to help us on our way to snuffing negativity.

Long-Weekend Larry

This jackass has actually come down with a case of the Mondays, a little too conveniently taking sick days to extend their weekends and long weekends. So frequently, in fact, that you’ve come to expect the call. Their absence puts an unfair burden on those they work with, work for, and manage.

Jackass reaction: You choreograph an office-wide discussion about just how epic Monday was at work, to be performed each and every Tuesday. Include comments about bonus checks, free donuts, and pajama day attire.

Whisperer reaction: If this is your employee, you give it to them straight and privately let them know the pattern has been noted and won’t be acceptable going forward. Mondays come each and every week, and you’ll expect to see them bright and early, ready to work. If this is your co-worker or manager, you file a complaint and let their manager speak to them. It’s not your job to babysit them, but it isn’t your job to take up their slack either.

Infectious Ian

Even though this jackass has the flu, they’ve decided to martyr themselves (and apparently you as well) and show up to work weak, red-faced, and sneezing. They think it makes them look dedicated, but it actually makes them look like a selfish jackass.

Jackass reaction: There are a few ways you could go here, depending on the strength of your immune system. You could approach the martyr, doing your best impression of the close talker from “Seinfeld,” wait for the apex of their sneeze, and, as their mouth opens wide, cough right into it. Then run away apologizing for the tuberculosis they now have to be vaccinated against. Another option is wearing a hazmat suit like Dustin Hoffman in “Outbreak” or Brad Pitt in “World War Z.”

Whisperer reaction: You’d rather deal with the sick martyr than Joe in accounting who gets the “flu” every long weekend. You keep your distance, wash your hands frequently, and eat your vegetables.

We’re all the jackass and we’re also all the whisperer, writes Scott. He recommends that we stick to saying kind things to others, remain considerate of other’s time, and share space more often than we share our own opinion.

Scott Stratten is an “unmarketer”. An expert in viral, social, and authentic marketing. Using real life, practical examples, along with a good dose of humour, he shows audiences how to “unlearn” the old ways and consistently attract, engage, and hold on to the right customers.

Scott is the author of six bestselling business books, including UnBranding: 100 Branding Lessons for the Age of Disruption and UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. His book, UnSelling: The New Customer Experience, was named “Sales Book of the Year” by 1-800 CEOREAD.

Interesting in learning more about Scott and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].

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