Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2013 Contents B20
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Some people exude negativity. They don t like
their jobs or they don t like their company. Their
bosses are always jerks and they are always treated
unfairly. The company is always going down the
tube and customers are worthless. You know these
negative Neds and Nellies---every organisation has
some---and you can best address their impact on
you via avoidance.
On the other hand, sometimes normally positive
people are negative. Some of the time, too, their
reasons for negativity are legitimate. You will take
a completely different tack with these occasionally
negative people. We ll deal with both of these vari-
eties of negativity from people.
Tips for dealing with
Listen to the employee or coworker s complaints
until you are certain that they feel heard out and
listened to. Sometimes people repeat negative sen-
timents over and over because they don t feel like
you have really listened to them. Ask questions.
Clarify their statements. Make sure you have actively
Decide if you believe the employee or coworker
has legitimate reasons for their negativity. If you
decide affirmatively, ask if they d like your help to
solve the problem. If they ask for help, provide
advice or ideas for how the coworker can address
the reason for their negativity.
Short term advice that points a person in a positive
direction is welcome. But, your role is not to provide
therapy or counseling. Nor, is your role to provide
comprehensive career advice or long term recom-
mendations. Point the coworker to helpful books,
seminars, or the Human Resources Department to
solve their problem. Know your limits when advising
Sometimes, the coworker just wants to complain
to a friendly, listening ear; they don t want your
advice or assistance to address the situation. Listen,
but set limits so the coworker does not overstay or
over-talk his or her welcome. Long term complaining
saps your energy and positive outlook. Don t allow
that to happen.
Walk away. Tell the coworker you d prefer to move
on to more positive subjects.
If you listen to the coworker s negativity, and
decide the concerns are not legitimate, practice per-
sonal courage and tell them what you think. Tell
the coworker you care about their concern and
about their happiness at work, but you disagree
with their assessment of the situation.
Back gracefully out of additional conversations.
The coworker will attempt to appeal to your sym-
pathetic nature, but if you believe the negativity is
unwarranted, don t spend your time listening or
helping the coworker to address the negative feelings.
You will only encourage long term and growing
negative feelings and, potentially, behavior. You will
set yourself up as a negativity magnet. Constant
negative interactions will eventually permeate your
interaction with your workplace.
Tips for dealing with negative coworkers
Deal with genuinely negative people by spending
as little time with them as possible. Just as you set
limits with the coworkers whose negativity you
believe is baseless or unwarranted, you need to set
limits with genuinely negative people.
Causes of their long term negativity are not your
concern. Every negative person has a story. Don t
impact your positive outlook by listening to the sto-
ries, or reviewing the history and the background
about the grievances purported to cause the neg-
ativity. You reinforce the negativity; negativity is a
choice. Negativity mongers need a new job, a new
company, a new career, a new outlook, or counseling.
They don t need you.
Deal with negative coworkers in these
Avoid spending time with a negative
If you are forced, through your role in
the company, to work with a negative per-
son, set limits. Do not allow yourself to be
drawn into negative discussions. Tell the
negative coworker, you prefer to think about
your job positively. Avoid providing a sym-
pathetic audience for the negativity.
Suggest the negative person seek assis-
tance from human resources or their super-
If all else fails, talk to your own supervisor
or human resources staff about the chal-
lenges you are experiencing in dealing with
the negative person.
Your supervisor may have ideas, may be
willing to address the negativity, and may
address the issue with the negative person s
supervisor. Persistent negativity, that
impacts coworkers work is a work behavior
that may require disciplinary action.
If negativity among employees in your
company is persistent, if the issues that
warrant negativity are left unaddressed,
and the negativity affects your ability to
professionally perform your work, you may
want to consider moving on. Your current
culture will not support your desired work
And, if no one is working to improve a
work culture that enables negativity, don t
expect the culture to change any time soon.
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