Overcoming Workplace Negativity - Higher Ground Consulting Group, LLC
November 17, 2019
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Negativity at WorkNegativity is fast becoming a workplace phenomenon. Perhaps it is driven by the pace of change and sense of urgency that seem to dominate the business landscape. It might be caused by a younger generation of workers who feel more entitled than their predecessors.

Regardless of the reasons, negativity can quickly have a devastating effect on employee morale, productivity, and customer service. That’s why leaders must learn to identify and deal with the various forms of negativity that reveal themselves in the attitudes and actions of team members.

Here is a short list of some common negativity types:

  • Resisters – These are persons who protest vehemently against anything they identify as new or different.
  • Shifters – This negativity type is best known for wild mood swings. One minute they are calm and the next agitated.
  • Blamers – These workers are experts at accusing others for all their ills. Nothing ever seems to be their fault.
  • Clingers – Persons with this negativity type can’t let go of anything. They dwell on every unfavorable decision, unhappy outcome, and unfulfilled promise from the recent past or years ago.
  • Complainers – This negativity type seems to find a reason to question every decision, action, or inaction in the workplace.

It’s not hard to see how these forms of negativity can impact a workplace. Leaders must identify and address negative behaviors promptly. Here are some tips for overcoming negativity.

  • Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into their negative outlook.
  • Avoid arguments by focusing on areas of agreement.
  • Establish consequences for persistent negative behavior and enforce them.
  • Ask more questions so the negative employee can think about what is behind their behavior.
  • Listen more to be sure you understand what is happening in the workplace.
  • Empower your people so they can’t view themselves as victims.
  • Make better hiring decisions by screening for negative people.

Remember, negativity can be triggered by false perceptions people have about others and themselves so changing their perceptions is another approach you might take. As negative persons feel better about themselves they can begin to see their situation differently.


Ken Byler

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