My supervisor knocked on my door one morning last week. She peered into my office and asked if I had a few minutes to talk. I braced myself for bad news. It's rarely a good thing when your boss comes to your office for a private chat. My intuition was right. There was a problem and my supervisor wanted to discuss it.
"I've noticed at our last few meetings [weekly department meetings] that you've been extremely negative," she said. Fortunately, I seem to have more control over my "automatic" reactions when I'm at work than I do in my personal life. If, for example, it had been my husband complaining about my negative attitude I probably would have immediately become defensive. My initial inclination when my supervisor confronted me was, in fact, to become defensive. Thankfully, I bit my tongue long enough to think before I spoke.
"Ok," I replied after a moment in what I hoped was a neutral tone of voice.
"I just wanted you to be aware," my supervisor explained.
"Ok," I repeated. I proceeded to change the subject as quickly as possible. My supervisor didn't seem to mind. Maybe this whole thing was as uncomfortable for her as it was for me.
Afterwards, I thought back to our last few staff meetings, trying to remember if I'd said or done anything "negative." I was unable to recall anything specific one way or another. Ultimately, I decided this was irrelevant anyway. It didn't matter whether I thought I'd been negative. Apparently, my supervisor noticed some sort of change in my attitude or she wouldn't have said anything to me. I concluded that something about my attitude must have shifted without me being aware of it.
I did some soul searching. The truth is, I was aware of a shift in my attitude. Work has seemed so heavy lately. I've been looking forward to long weekends and short weeks with more vigor than usual. The weeks seem too long and the weekends too short; I return to work on Mondays feeling weary and unrefreshed.
This happens to me sometimes, typically when I'm under a lot of stress and feeling overwhelmed. I try not to take it out on others, but apparently it comes out inadvertently.
So have I been negative lately? Probably. I'm an expressive person by nature and it's difficult for me to conceal my emotions. I suppose I need to try harder.
I suspect that what I really need is a vacation. My work takes a lot out of me. Sometimes, I need a week or two off to refuel. I try to take at least a week off every six months; perhaps I need to do it more frequently...