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How Not To Get Affected By A Negative Or Stressful Atmosphere At Work?

Written by: Justine Hebert Dinesen, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Stress is not necessarily only related to workload but also to the negative atmosphere at work. Negative feelings, such as anger, frustration and fear, affect our ability to focus and our efficiency at work. They trigger our fight and flight response, limiting access to our rational part of the brain. It is therefore of the utmost importance to avoid the spread of negative energy at work. The manager’s role is crucial in this aspect, but having the ability to not get affected by a negative or stressful atmosphere is also for our own good. We do not want to bring these toxic vibes home. So, what can we do to not be affected by a negative or stressful atmosphere at work?

We spread negative and positive feelings all the time, and often unconsciously. Feelings are extremely contagious. But, whereas meeting a happy colleague will put you in a good mood, having a talk with an angry person can pollute the rest of your day and the people you come across. It might seem exaggerated but if your boss has an angry attitude during a meeting or talks to you in a harsh way, you might start to feel that you have done something wrong and leave the meeting worried and annoyed. Studies show that you can pass on a negative feeling into the third or fourth link, meaning that you can pass on your negative feelings to your colleagues, partner and kids after having that encounter with your boss. We all have a responsibility for the kind of atmosphere we bring into the workspace. Being able to stop the spread of negative vibes is therefore important. You can decide not to get affected by a negative feeling by following these five steps:

1. Be curious: Ask the person who feels angry or stressed if he/she is okay? Usually, people will tell you what upsets them and whether it has something to do with you. It will enable you to feel better and help the other person to become aware of how they look and the energy they spread. 2. Take a step back: “Why am I annoyed now? What happened that suddenly made me feel this way? Is there something I can and want to do about it?” If this is the case, then you should do it. By taking action you will free up some mental space and it will help you be balanced. 3. Take ownership: It’s important that you understand your reaction and take control over the situation. Start thinking of how your reaction makes you feel, what type of situation it reminds you of, and how you would like to react instead.

4. Change your feeling in your body and mind: To release this negative feeling you need to focus on your breathing until you start feeling calmer. Breathing deeply in through the nose and down into the belly is an effective way to calm your nervous system. Then, focus on feeling your body. Close your eyes and take a moment to notice how your body feels. You can eventually try to embody a more positive feeling. 5. Think of the things you are grateful for in your life. It is scientifically proven that by practicing gratefulness we activate our social intelligence. This part of the brain enables us to make good decisions. We can think and react in accordance with our own values, as well as in relation with the situation we are in and the people we are surrounded by. We are not our thoughts and feelings, we have thoughts and feelings and therefore, we can decide how we want our feelings to affect us. Leaders have an important role to play when it comes to stopping the spread of negative energy at work. If someone is constantly coming to work in a bad mood or stressed, it is the responsibility of the manager of the department to talk with that person about their attitude and find out whether they are aware of it, what they can do to change it and how the leader of the department can support that person in succeeding to change the behavior at work. Negative atmospheres have an effect on our ability to thrive, concentrate, and work efficiently. We have all heard or experienced a department where employees were going on stress leave or leaving the company one after the other. It is very costly for the company, both financially and in terms of competence loss. It is therefore absolutely necessary that there is a large focus on training both employees and managers' Emotional Intelligence (EI), that is to say, their ability to perceive, manage, and regulate our emotions.

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Justine Hebert Dinesen, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Justine Hebert Dinesen is a certified and experienced Life and Stress Coach, speaker, and wellbeing consultant. Besides conducting one-on-one coaching online and in-person in Copenhagen, over the past several years, she has held numerous workshops and courses both inside and outside of Denmark. Justine herself experienced an extreme period of stress while working as a Bid Manager for a large renewable energy company, a personal experience that ultimately led Justine down a new and highly rewarding career path, informing and helping others to prevent or alleviate stress and its symptoms and consequences in their lives. Thanks to her English, French, and Danish fluency, she can reach a wide audience across borders, helping them attain goals, shift into new career paths, navigate difficult decisions, improve their self-esteem, and generally renew their spark for life.



  • Rikke Østergaard, 2021, Vi havde en fest på arbejdet men så kom Preben

  • Nicholas Christakis & James Fowler, 2009, Connected ‒ The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our lives

  • Daniel Goleman, 2020, Emotional Intelligence ‒ Why it can matter more than IQ


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