Dear Ms. Raquel,

I remember your article published last June 2019 about ‘creating good relationships at work’. I tried as much as possible to follow what you have suggested–that I make my workplace like a family where harmony must be achieved as much as possible. I like the part when you mentioned that we should have a feeling of ‘sense of belongingness’; that is why I started reaching out to my colleagues. However, as much as I want to attain harmony and fit in with my other associates, I just could not tolerate how stressful it is to be with them. The negati­vity they bring about at work is so contagious that I get influenced by the way they complain and other unwanted ways at the office. I am normally not a whiner or a complainer but having them around is not good for me. I do not want to be manipulated by them. How do I deal with this? Thank you.


Dear Sarah,

Thank you for following my articles in People@Work. I am glad that you have tried the suggestions that I shared in my column.

Yes, I remember in my previous article when I associated work with ‘family’ where we (ideally) try to maintain peace and harmony and where everyone is comfortable with each other. Having to achieve this at work is great. When harmony is maintained, workers become more efficient and they become productive. This efficiency then results to higher productivity for the company.

However, please remember that, just like families, even if they are brought up in the same environment, they turn out to be different in many aspects. Even if siblings are raised in the same manner, they can have entirely different character and personalities. While one may have a pleasant disposition, another may have a negative perspective on life. It may be the same in your workplace. You may have colleagues who have different attitudes towards work and life. Some may have a pessimistic outlook which can affect others.

Do not let them affect you. Remember that the workplace setting can have a great impact on you, that may disturb you and affect how you feel and ultimately how you work. Though your intention of reaching out to colleagues to create harmony is good, the pre­sence of co-workers with a negative attitude may cause you stress. Furthermore, with constant interaction with them, you become affected and take on their character.

You are at risk of being negatively influenced. When people around you are influencing you in a manner that changes your good behaviour and in a way that does not benefit you (and may ultimately harm you), be aware that you are succumbing to negative social manipulation. There are ways to manage these bad influences in your life, whether family or at work. These are awareness and action.


It is important to be aware of the people around you. Remember that you are not obliged to hang out with friends or colleagues who may negatively influence you. Determine if they are doing you good or are they adversely changing your values and work ethics. If you believe that you are being negatively manipulated, do not let peer pressure and the desire to fit in be the reason to be a part of this group. Avoid adopting their ways, lifestyle, choices and beha­viour.


There is a need to evaluate present connections and establish their intentions or even their ways. Check if they are part of the negative and manipulative people in your life who you do not need to interact with. Relationships may change when this happens. Letting go of these people may just be the best option for you. Be ready to libe­rate yourself from them especially if they affect your health, disposition and happiness. Moreover, take charge of the situation and set clear personal boundaries of what you need to do and avoid when faced with unwanted situations.

Being aware and taking actions to avoid the negative social manipulators can help you achieve a more harmonious life at work. Eventually, without them, you will likely be able to focus on work and become more productive and healthy. Better yet, find someone who can positively influence you. Remember that beautiful things happen when you surround yourself with people who have a positive ­attitude in life.

             Ms. Raquel

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