Organizations have been through a lot these past few years. A certain amount of fatigue/disenchantment/frustration is normal. BUT, left unaddressed, these things can multiply and create a widespread epidemic of negativity. The Negativity Self-Evaluation tool below can help assess where attitudes might be slipping towards the negative. The debriefing information that follows provides steps for formulating an Attitude Adjustment Action Plan.
Where do you rate on the negativity scale? Score yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 for each question, and try to be honest with your answers.
1 2 3 4 5
Never Seldom Sometimes Often Always
1. Do you come into your workplace feeling enthusiastic and confident? _____
2. Do you focus on your goals even when you’re having a bad day? _____
3. Do you look for positive solutions when things don’t go your way at work? _____
4. Do you set a good example for co-workers? _____
5. Do you communicate well with your colleagues? _____
6. Do co-workers feel they can come to you for help? _____
7. Are you satisfied with the quality of work you do? _____
8. Do you find healthy ways to relieve stress? _____
9. Do you collaborate with others to meet the team’s and your goals? _____
10. Are you open to changes in your routine or environment? _____
If your total is under 25, you are highly susceptible to negativity and may be affecting others with your attitude. Continue to evaluate your performance on the job. If you can’t break the pattern of negativity, ask for outside help from a supervisor, a friend or Human Resources.
If your total is between 25-35, you’re on the borderline; you can fall victim to negativity, particularly during stressful times. When feeling pressured, give yourself a negativity “spot check”. Ask yourself if your work is up to par, if you are snapping easily, or whether your co-workers are acting differently towards you. These could all be signs that you need to take a deep breath and re-evaluate your attitude.
If your total is over 35, you probably don’t succumb to negativity often. But, you may not be completely immune to it. Think about how you interact with colleagues, especially when you’re stressed. People probably look to you as a model for positive behavior, so make sure stress doesn’t get the best of you. And, if you see others inciting a climate of negativity, try to help the person(s) find a positive solution or encourage them to seek assistance.
Debrief – The Attitude Adjustment Plan
Here are several good steps to take whenever you feel yourself becoming negative. (If you’re a manager or co-worker who needs to point out negativity in another person, see the special Note at the bottom.)
Take responsibility for your attitude and acknowledge the difficulties your negativity is causing.
Without an honest acceptance of the responsibility for and impact of your attitude, there is no motivation to change.
Practice “responding” rather than “reacting” to situations.
A reaction is often an instinctive, unproductive way of dealing with difficulties (negative people often “react” by blaming others for problems without seeing the part they’ve played in creating the problem). On the other hand, a response requires thoughtful consideration of:
- how can I take control of the situation vs. being a victim of the situation?
- what productive strategies and actions can I take?
Attempt to identify underlying causes for the negative attitude.
Try to uncover some of the reasons behind what you’re feeling. Is there a higher amount of stress than usual in the workplace? Are there unresolved issues with co-workers? Have you been feeling undervalued or overworked? Could family problems, debt, or illness be a factor?
Address the situations that cause stress.
Once you see what is causing the problem, try to find a workable solution and look for ways to prevent similar situations in the future. If need be, talk it over with another person. It’s amazing how an outside perspective can shed light on things. If there are conflicts you don’t feel comfortable handling on your own, ask a supervisor or HR person for assistance.
Note: If you are in a position of pointing out another person’s attitude problem, make sure you do these things in addition to suggesting the actions listed above:
- discuss the problem in private
- begin by giving positive feedback
- handle emotionally charged subjects with sensitivity
- focus on performance, not personality
Based on material in the Leader’s Guide for The Attitude Virus: Curing Negativity in the Workplace.
© CRM Learning.
Need help in this area? Bad attitudes in the workplace can spread like a virus and infect everyone in the whole organization. With CRM’s The Attitude Virus program, help employees learn to spot unproductive attitudes in themselves and others, and counteract them with positive behavior.