You are who you spend time with.
Their outlook rubs off on you and becomes a part of who you are. When Norman Vincent Peale said, “Get rid of all negative people in your life”, in the The Power Of Positive Thinking, this is what he was talking about.
Sometimes negative is packaged as ‘constructive’. Some of our business friends assume the role of critic, and feel like they add value by pointing out our weaknesses. Over time, they wear down our self-esteem and we become the critics of others. Mostly, they just make us feel bad about ourselves and make very little real difference in our personal or professional effectiveness.
I agree with Marcus Buckingham that spending time on your strengths is far more productive and useful. So, based on his work, I’ve started to hang out with people that look for my strengths, instead of my weaknesses. It’s rubbed off on me too. Now I spend time talking about others’ strengths, which has boosted the quality of my relationships. Call it a virtuous circle, but it has improved my business life and helped me personally.
Recommended: Prioritize your time for the next week to spend time with only the Strengths crowd. Tell your Weakness crowd that you don’t get a value add from their criticism and cut your time with them. If you’d like to coach someone on how to change their focus from weakness to strengths, give them a copy of Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.