The Poison of Negativity

It's hard not to be negative in the Great Recession.  Unemployment is insane (actual unemployment much higher).  Greece may destabilize the Euro for a decade.  Wall Street appears to be run by spoiled children.  You're not sure what to do with your career, and hope you can make ends meet, let alone live your dreams.

On top of all of this maybe you're unemployed, or your city or state are in the dumps, or your friends are facing career meltdown.

It's hard not to be negative.  It's hard not to rant or white or get angry, it's hard not to vent constantly because there's so much built up.

And for the sake of your career, I recommend you be bloody careful with your negativity.  Why?  Because Negativity in all its manifestations, from the screaming tearful rant to the mopey self-absorbed withdrawal, can poison your Network.

Think about your extended Network of family, friends, co-workers, ex co-workers, fellow geeks, gaming buddies, etc.  What's going to happen if you're the one who is spewing hopelessness, radiating despair, or moping all the time?

  1. They're not going to want to be around you.  Hopefully some of them will try and pull you out, but they may also get fed up.
  2. They're not going to be recommending you for jobs.  Who wants to recommend someone who has screaming rants or career emo phases for a job?  They'll be afraid you'll melt down and make them look bad.
  3. They're going to give up on helping you because, if you seem to be constantly down and negative, they're going to feel it doesn't make a difference.  If they get you three interviews and you just mention how it probably won't work out, what's the point?
  4. They're going to worry what'll happen when you hit rock bottom – and they may decide not to be there.

Your Network is the key to career survival (and indeed, human survival).  Being relentlessly negative is a quick way to damage and degrade that network.

I'm not saying fake being happy or ignore bad things.  What I am saying is that managing your negativity, facing issues, learning to cope is important to keep the poison from spreading not just to all of your life, but to all of those connected to you.

Learning to deal with negativity, keeping it from spreading to your network, will make sure that your network is reliable for when you need it.  That might just help you find the job, career break, or life-changing experience you need to overcome whatever is making you feel so negative in the first place.

– Steven Savage