Who Do You Surround Yourself With?

By Kevin McMullin

Group of people chilling out reading magazines

Recent research out of Kellogg (the business school at Northwestern) shows that just sitting near a high performer can actually make you better at your job. And not surprisingly, it also shows that the bad apples have an even bigger effect.

But before we all go rearranging our chairs accordingly, it’s worth thinking about not just who we’re sitting near, but also who we’re actually surrounded by, literally and figuratively.

There are significant findings showing secondhand stress—that which you take on from those around you—is real. But the people you regularly spend time with have an impact that goes further than just one outcome.

When you consider your friends, family, and other people you interact with most often, how do those interactions make you feel?

Do you come away from that time with them encouraged, motivated, happy, and positive? Or is your outlook less bright after time spent with them than it was before?

It’s worth not just considering the effect those people are having on you, but also acknowledging and acting on it. Seek time with people who make you better and happier. Minimize time with people who do the opposite. And if the people who negatively impact you are close enough that you can’t just spend less time with them (especially if they’re related to you), you might consider telling them how you feel after conversations with them. They might not be able or willing to change who they are. But they can change what they talk about.

If you’re hoping to enjoy your ride to college, who you decide to surround yourself with is an important planning decision. And if you're planning soon, you might need some help discovering where your group of motivated, positive people might be.

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