Krug: Negativity is always yours to control
Krug: Negativity is always yours to control

As I write this, the wind chill in Chicago is somewhere in the neighborhood of a zillion degrees below zero.

It is snowing, and has been, for a few days without pause. Winds you wouldn’t want to imagine are whipping the snow. It is cold. In totality, the conditions are what even an optimist would.....

As I write this, the wind chill in Chicago is somewhere in the neighborhood of a zillion degrees below zero.

It is snowing, and has been, for a few days without pause. Winds you wouldn’t want to imagine are whipping the snow. It is cold. In totality, the conditions are what even an optimist would call miserable.

An occasional bout with miserable weather is a fact of life in the Midwest. To live and work in what we believe to be the best city in the world, we have to pay the price and accept that there will be days that make us wish that we were living somewhere much warmer.

Of course, we forget that those other places where it is warm in January are mostly unbearable in July. But it’s hard to be rational when your eyebrow has become so weathered that it has turned crisp and started to crack off.

But negative weather passes. That makes it unlike negative people, whose storm fronts stall out and linger if your environment allows it.

Before I go one step further on the subject of negativity, I wanted to send up a shout out to Lea McLeod, who writes for Mashable’s The Daily Muse, and contributed a terrific story titled, “How to Deal With Your 5 Most Negative Co-Workers.” It published on Saturday and had been shared more than 4,000 times by the time I read it Sunday. It’s good stuff, and I strongly encourage you to spend 10 minutes with it – after you finish my spiel, please.

After I finished reading it, I couldn’t help but immediately think the story was perfect for those people who must cope with the Sour Kangaroos in their shops – those brilliant, wonderfully talented folks that may appear in our office each day looking like a million bucks on the outside, but can’t help but cast negativity upon the office from the inside.

And few of us are immune from this scenario. It doesn’t matter if you work at the fire department, as a professional football player or in a creative agency – if you are in a team environment, there always seems to be at least one person that can’t seem to fill his or her own cup. And these people deliberately attempt to bring down the rest of the room, or anyone that they can influence. It’s as if they can’t help themselves.

The motivations are theirs. The joy around them cannot be seen, and they cannot absorb it. In a group celebration, they are posting comments on Facebook or some other such non-team activity. Most, it would reason, are unhappy with their lives or their work – or both – and they project it on others. On their best days, they are ambivalent, but wait to pounce on the first opportunity to complain.

Their outward, unfiltered criticisms about anything and everything you could imagine are subtle and not-so-subtle attempts to recruit new members into the misery club. They communicate through helpless and hapless public sighs that never contain so much as a shred of a solution. Sadly, misery loves company, and negativity can spread.

As leaders, we give the carriers of this negative energy far too much attention and too wide of a berth. We offer the terminally negative credibility by listening to them – whine after whine, bitch after bitch and moan after moan. We enable their petty complaints about the miniscule, and it affects our own point of view. We can begin to offer them some validity when most of the time there simply is none.

Life is too short to work with a-holes. We all get that.

But nobody ever thinks that they are, in fact, the a-hole.

So let’s pull out the mirror, hold it up to our faces, and then see if we are the ones multiplying camaraderie to the power of negative one.

When was the last time that we just spewed unfiltered negativity on someone nearby?

When was the last time that we identified a problem and tossed it out into open air for someone else to resolve?

When was the last time that we saw a flaw in the process – and, my friend, even in legacy companies they exist – and didn’t attempt to remedy it?

These are signature moves of the negative person.

There are some that look at the time that they trade for a salary as work. Others look at it as this transaction as a stage of their career – or at least an opportunity to learn some new skills that will benefit them on their path.

When that thing you do to provide for yourself or your family begins to look like work, and you no longer can stand it, and you can’t help but tell the people around you as much, take the hint: You’re negative.

Do yourself a favor, and either work it out or look for another place to earn.

Because it’s true what they say: Life’s too short.

• • •


As always, stay classy.


Chris Krug is president of the progressive media communications firm No Limit Agency in Chicago. No Limit is a full-service agency whose practice focuses on strategy, brand management, creative campaigns and delivering unparalleled placement in the media. No Limit Agency works with some of the best-known brands in North America, and that’s not a coincidence. Contact Krug by calling 312-526-3996 or via email at [email protected].

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