Negativity in the workplace can be related to overwork, job insecurity, lack of leadership, disrespect, boredom, lack of rewards, personality conflicts and many other factors.
Any one of us can be tempted to “go negative” from time to time. Sadly, for some, it is the way they communicate most of the time.
Whether you are working to combat your own negativity or are needing to respond to negativity from others, here are four helpful things to keep in mind.
1. Persistent complaining or whining not only harms the reputation of the person doing it, but it is also toxic for the work environment! Ask others to call you out if they hear you whining, gossiping or using an excessive amount of sarcasm. And, when you hear others doing it, challenge them respectfully with statements like: “What’s so bad about that?,” or “Let’s find things we like about this change, rather than focus on what frustrates us.”
2. When negativity stems from a real problem, it is usually possible for people to find constructive ways to resolve the problem. For example, if a new policy is affecting you or your team adversely…rather than gripe about the situation, see if you can document exactly where the new policy is hurting productivity, morale or results. Then start asking future-focused questions like, “What would good look like?” or “How might we keep the “spirit” of the new policy without the unintended negative consequences?” Then, propose your ideas to others and work with them to explore positive possibilities.
3. The Negativity Cycle is minimized when people agree to talk “with” not “about” one another. Starting today, rather than vent about a co-worker behind their back, acknowledge that no one can resolve your disagreements with others better than you can. If you need to role play with an objective third party to hone your skills in this area, find a mentor or friend who can help you (rather than commiserate with you). Then, do your best to work out the disagreement directly. The information in our Conflict Resolution 101: Focus on the Problem, Not the Person post can help.
4. Think positively! Yes, this sounds like a cliché, but it is doable. When you feel the temptation to wallow in how bad things are, turn your focus from what’s going wrong to what’s going right. Our Accentuate the Positive activity can help you move from a negative to positive outlook by letting you practice how to rephrase different statements in a more positive way.
By making an effort to stay positive, you...
keep yourself from being adversely impacted by those who are expressing negative emotions
offset the negative impact of stress on your body, improving things like job and life satisfaction and emotional and physical well being1
have an opportunity to uplift others
We hope the tips in this post will help you get there. We also recommend these training programs: