Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 21st 2014 Contents B8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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
varieties of negativity from people.
• Listen to the employee or coworker s complaints until you
are certain that they feel heard out and listened to. Sometimes
people repeat negative sentiments 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 listened.
• 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 recommendations. Point the coworker to helpful books,
seminars, or the Human Resources Department to solve their
problem. Know your limits when advising coworkers.
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 con-
cerns are not legitimate, practice personal 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 sympathetic 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, behaviour.
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 stories, or reviewing the history and
the background about the grievances purported to cause the
negativity. 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 ways.
Avoid spending time with a negative coworker.
If you are forced, through your role in the company, to work
with a negative person, 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 sympathetic audience for the negativity.
Suggest the negative person seek assistance from human
resources or their supervisor.
If all else fails, talk to your own supervisor or human resources
staff about the challenges 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
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 environment. And, if no
one is working to improve a work culture that enables negativity,
don t expect the culture to change any time soon.
How to deal with a negative coworker
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