Do you have friends around you that never seem to have any ideas of their own, but always say yes to yours? What about co-workers that drag you down or make you doubt your abilities? Maybe you have people around you that always see the negative in every situation, darkening your days instead of brightening them. And what about those calls you send to voicemail rather than answering because ‘you just can’t cope with that conversation right now’.
I once had a boss who was a great connection, on paper — female, successful, results oriented, a great supporter of me and my work. Over time, however, as my success and network of influence grew, her behaviour changed.
Once productive meetings became discussions of negative details; my big ideas, which had once been embraced enthusiastically, were shut down; my personal ambitions were devalued and marginalised. I was clearly and continuously put back in my box. A woman who had once inspired me now began to limit me.
Networking effectively is absolutely about finding the right people and that can often that can involve intentionally losing the wrong people.
It might seem unlikely that you would associate with someone who doesn’t support you or your work, but often their negative impact won’t be immediately evident. It is only with time and experience that you begin to recognise the subtle interventions that keep you small, or behaviours that are incongruous with the lifestyle you actually want to lead or the person you want to become.
Knowing who to cut from your network is as important as knowing who to keep. There are four types of negative people you need to sink from the ‘Network of You’
- BURNERS – want you to be be less
As hard as it may be to accept, there are people out there who don’t really want you to succeed. They may just want you to stay exactly who you are, as you are. These Burners are usually scaremongers who are frightened that you will leave them behind or achieve more. They’d rather you stuck with the status quo and didn’t become ‘too big for your boots’. Sometimes there’s a strategy behind this (maybe they see you as competition); at other times they may not even realise they are sabotaging your success and stealing your dreams.
- UNDERMINERS – want you to care less
Remember back to your school days and that one friend who seemed absolutely wonderful but was actually undermining you behind your back? Unfortunately, this adolescent mindset is prevalent in the grown-up world too. Underminers zap your positive energy and make you feel like you constantly have to defend yourself or justify your behaviour. They don’t support your career or personal goals because they are too focused on themselves and where they fit into the picture. The only place for an Underminer is in the playground.
- JUDGERS – want you to know less
Ever feel like someone is constantly judging you and all you do? Do you feel like others are putting you in a box with a neat little name on it and thereby setting your limitations? This group of offenders also breed negativity, judging not just you but everyone else in your network. They judge your goals and ambitions, as well as your achievements and successes. This creates barriers to your growth, knowledge, insight and intellect, serving no purpose except to feed doubt and insecurity, and to block your progress.
- FIGHTERS – want you to do less
Fighters do just that: they fight you every step of the way along your road to success. They hold you back with the intention of bringing you down with them. They can’t bear to see you achieving when they are not. ‘How dare you have your own ambitions and aspirations! How dare you demonstrate focus, integrity, drive and determination! Keep that junk out of your head and stick with me in the status quo.’
Be brave and reassess the negative people in your network. Choose to play your own game in the way you want. Choose to live the life you want. Choose to take control of your own energy, mindset and momentum. Choose to make your network work for you.
As multi-millionaire businessman and philanthropist Tony Robbins puts it,
‘Who you spend time with is who you become. Change your life by consciously choosing to surround yourself with people with higher standards!’