Q: Sophie, Stewardess:child
“Hiya, I read your article the other week about the toxic crew member and was wondering if you can help me – as we have one of these onboard too but I am not the boss so I can’t do what you suggested. This person is really upsetting everyone and we would all be so much happier without them! What can we do?”
A: The Crew Coach:
Hi Sophie, thanks for getting in touch and this is a great question because there will be many others who are in, or have been in your situation.
The first step is controlling your reaction to this person, because that is not helping the situation. Studies show that dealing with negative emotions on a regular basis sends us into a physical stress response: something you certainly need to protect yourself from as it will eat away at your energy reserves and could even make you get sick.
One thing you can do is stop rising to the bait. This person has been stomping around taking their feelings out on everyone – and everyone’s reacting. This means they are absolutely getting what they want – attention – and whether they’re consciously aware of it or not, that is the driver behind this behaviour. When you allow this to bother you it’s like putting the other person in control of your emotional state. You need to take that control back as you are the one responsible for your own feelings!
Start noticing when they get your hackles rising, but don’t react by snapping. Rather, put yourself back in the driver’s seat. Change the topic when the person is heading into one of their negative doom spirals, and step into defuse situations where the negative crew member is either criticising or bringing others down. Jokes are the best way to defuse a situation where possible, and refocus the rest of the crew on a good feeling of camaraderie rather than misery.
Stop obsessing over them. Yes, it’s natural to be annoyed that this person is derailing the team and making everyone miserable, and particularly frustrating that you are not their boss and therefore can’t get rid of them! But by letting yourself get angry and bogged down in it, you might be failing to notice all the good things that are going on in spite of this negative person. If you think about it, this means the negative person has won, by making you become negative! The little storm cloud you’ve noticed take over the crew has taken you over too and you’re probably now unconsciously helping to spread the bad mood around!
My grandmother had a great expression: “Look upon the donut, and not upon the hole.” This perfectly sums up the message here – if you keep looking for what is wrong, not only are you guaranteed to find it, but you will set your mood to negative. Feelings follow focus, so if you focus instead on what is right and good – even if you have to look outside the yacht to find it – you will find your mood lifts.
It is incredibly hard to live and work with someone that makes your blood boil. But the longer you let yourself react, the more you’re also playing a part in dragging your fellow crew down. We can’t change others around us, but we can change our attitude towards them. And sometimes when you do, they change as well!
Good luck and keep in touch, let me know if this helps!
What do you think – how would you address the situation?