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 a few things to keep in mind:
- 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.”
- 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 propose changes you think might help keep the “spirit” of the new policy without the unintended negative consequences.
- 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, why not choose to say, “no one can fix my disagreements with others better than I can.” If you need to role play with someone to hone your skills in this area, find a mentor or friend who can help you (rather than commiserate with you).
- 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.
Recommended training resource: The Attitude Virus: Curing Negativity in the Workplace provides a great overview of the different forms workplace negativity can take, and how these behaviors impact others. Specific skills are provided for nipping negativity in the bud–whether the negative attitude belongs to you or someone else. Attitude Virus – Government Version and Attitude Virus – Workforce Edition also available.