For anyone who has ever worked in a toxic environment you will know that negative people suck the life out of you. Being in a place where you have to think twice about what you are saying is tough.
In a school, negative people don’t belong. They are not wanted and yet you will find them because personalities clash, niches develop and the stress of the job can make Frankensteins of us all.
It has often been said in one way or another that “You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with.”
Even in very challenging contexts, there will always be excellent people to side with and it is those people we need to make friends with.
In any line of work it is always good advice to stay away from dream stealers and energy hoovers because they will make life a misery. No one needs negative junk polluting their lives. I don’t want to hang around with someone who says the glass is half full. I don’t want to hear gossip and I’d prefer not to get dragged into the soup or be a stirrer thank you very much. A positivity collapse is something none of us want.
Champion teachers will tell you that they gravitate towards people that inspire them. These are the people who are enthusiastic, ooze positivity and have a laugh.
And it’s not just in work either. We need to surround ourselves with good company socially in the real-world and online world. Why let someone ruin your mindset on Twitter – block them!
Surround yourself with people who respect you is so important for your mental health. Your inner circle and confidantes need to be people you can be honest and open with and who will watch your back when it is turned.
Good colleagues are actually great colleagues because they make you feel secure, valued and included. They are the mood boosters who are always happy to help and consistent. They have high expectations of you but realistic expectations too. They want the best for you and will help you get there. This is a reciprocal relationship by the way!
Jennifer Gonzalez articulates this well and advises that we plant ourselves next to marigolds and avoid the walnut trees. Her blog is a fascinating take on ‘keeping good company’ and the gardening analogy is an excellent one because it reminds us who to avoid and where we should position our loyalties. She says,
“WALNUT TREES ARE POISON. Avoid them whenever you can. If you don’t, they will start to infect you, and soon you’ll hate teaching as much as they do.”
Although the advice is good, the sad reality is that most of us have to put up with energy vampires, fun sponges and people who we just don’t like.
Of course, there is a completely different take on all this and its one that Abigail Mann suggests in her excellent book Live Well, Teach Well
She says that rather than avoid the toxic teachers like the plague, “I think they should be showered by kindness and support.”
She reminds us that schools are a community and we don’t always know what private battles people are up to their necks in. Positivity is contagious and that means sharing it with everyone.
Do you know, this is actually really great advice.