You Get What You Tolerate

We’ve all been there: Working or interacting on a regular basis with someone who always seems to suck everyone around them into a vortex of negativity. The tension, the underlying nasty currents, the whole vibe of the office, meeting, conference call, dinner table, wherever – just seems to shift the wrong way whenever they’re around. It’s like they bring a black cloud with them that darkens the atmosphere around them, too.

And over the past decade, scientific research has supported what everyone who’s ever regularly been in the presence of such a person has known in their gut: That emotions and attitudes are contagious – especially bad ones.

When we simply stand back and put up with negative environments or atmospheres and the behaviors that can cause them to flourish, whether that involves unprofessionalism or racism or rudeness, it’s on us to take a stand. To react. To speak up. To do or say something to address and fix (or start addressing and fixing) the problem.

But I don’t like to rock the boat!, you may be thinking. I don’t want to be a tattletale or part of office politics!

Fine. But don’t expect for things to change much, either. Why? Because you get what you tolerate.

If we do not try to influence a negative situation to make it better, we’ll keep getting what we’ve been getting. This concept doesn’t just apply to the workplace, either. You get what you tolerate in all aspects of life: marriages, relationships with children and other family members, friendships.

Here’s the key: Recognize the difference between thinking I want things to change and I want to change things. The difference is you – playing an active not a passive role.

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