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10 Ways to Overcome Negativity at Work

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Jane confided, “I feel like an enthusiastic puppy with all kinds of ideas and possibilities, but when I go to share them, there’s always someone who stomps on my tail.” John chimed in, “I know exactly what she means, everyone around here is just so negative. I’m beginning to wonder why I bother.” Perhaps you’ve felt that way too. It can be tough to stay motivated in a negative workplace.

“Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling in the ocean of your bliss.” -Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

10 Ways to Overcome Negativity at Work

  1. Make a list of what you like most about your job. Share it with others. Ask them what they like most about their jobs.
  2. Ask people why they work. In a negative environment, the answer may seem obvious—“For the paycheck, stupid”—but take it a step further. Do they work to support their sick mom? To pay back student loans? To save for their children’s education? Because they enjoy helping customers? Reconnecting to the purpose of work can help make the smaller annoyances less frustrating.
  3. Call out negativity. When you see negative thinking or actions, talk to the person privately to call it out, particularly if other leaders are involved. When negative attitudes and talk are all around, it’s tempting to ignore it. Raise the bar and change the conversation.
  4. Rise above the drama. Refuse to get sucked into the rumors and gossip. Respond to your team’s concerns with transparency and candor. Be the one who people know they can trust for a straight answer.
  5. Find kindred spirits. Not everyone is negative, although it can feel that way at times. Look around and find other folks trying to change the scene for the better. There is strength in numbers. Look outside your organization as well.
  6. Create an “envelope of excellence” or cultural oasis. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to fix the overall culture. Start with your own team and do what you can to make it feel better to come to work.
  7. Find reasons to celebrate. With all the negativity, it’s easy to overlook the good. Go out of your way to recognize and celebrate small wins. Substitute weak phrases like “No problem” with more enthusiastic words like “I’d be happy to.”
  8. See barriers as a challenge. Encourage your team to embrace the problems they see as opportunities and challenges to learn and grow. Recap learning along the way to help them feel a sense of positive momentum even during the most challenging times.
  9. Laugh more. I had one colleague who would respond to the company’s most ridiculous political nonsense by reminding the team, “It’s all comedy.” Step back and recognize how ridiculous some behavior is. You’ll create a healthy distance from which to respond more appropriately.
  10. Hold deeper developmental conversations. In periods of uncertainty, people yearn for a sense of control and connection. Take your developmental conversations to the next level. Ask your team and your peers about their hopes and dreams, what motivates them, and what scares them. Show up as a real human being caring about other real human beings.

Don’t let the naysayers win. Be the positive spark that ignites possibilities in others.

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Image credit:

Copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo

Your turn. How do you overcome negativity in the workplace?
Filed Under:   Energy & Engagement, Everything Else, winning well
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, human capital consultant, and MBA professor. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, & Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America. Her latest book, Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul is available now on Amazon and in bookstores.
 

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What People Are Saying

Terri Klass   |   22 February 2016   |   Reply

Wonderful post, Karin! Negativity is so contagious and can derail a team so easily. I have found that when a team leader can gather a team together and ask each member to share one way someone else adds value can be so helpful. When people see that they are appreciated for all their hard work, some of the negativity might actually turn to care.

Thanks Karin for a great way to start the week off!

Karin Hurt   |   25 February 2016   |   Reply

Terri, I love that technique! Thanks for sharing. What a great way to build positivity.

LaRae Quy   |   22 February 2016   |   Reply

Love this article because you make such an important point: it’s all about mindset.

Once we control our mind, rather than letting our mind control us, we’ve got the secret sauce to success!

Karin Hurt   |   25 February 2016   |   Reply

LaRae, Ahhh, mindset… I know a great blogger who writes all about that ;-)

Alli Polin   |   22 February 2016   |   Reply

Appreciate the positive perspective. We CAN create an oasis and laugh… just have to make that choice instead of getting sucked down into the deep negative abyss.

~ Alli

Karin Hurt   |   25 February 2016   |   Reply

Alli, Thanks so much. I so agree, it comes down to making the choice.

zafarmanzoor   |   23 February 2016   |   Reply

Excellent points to implement / practice.
However more points may be added pl.
Negativity or negative attitude / behavior at the workplace can also be tackled by paying attention to the people / listening to them and full filling their genuine demands in a timely manner.

Karin   |   25 February 2016   |   Reply

zafarmanzoor,
So true! Great addition. Thank you.

zafarmanzoor   |   23 February 2016   |   Reply

I really appreciate the great comments of Miss. TERRY KLASS at point #1.
Excellent comments and a reality indeed.
YES, Negative attitude / behaviour can derail (ruin) a entire organization / Nation.
QA – Engineer, FFC – UREA Plantsite, Sadiqabad, Pakistan.

karin hurt   |   25 February 2016   |   Reply

So great to have you joining the conversation.

David Savelsberg   |   25 February 2016   |   Reply

I AM the oasis in swirling shifting desert sands of negativity!

This is a great post. I have been practicing some of these for years and they work! Shades of Viktor Frankl: “The last of human freedoms, the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, the ability to choose one’s own way.”

Often it only takes one or two people in a negative environment to ignite
a swirl of positive energy and effort. Eventually.

Amy   |   26 February 2016   |   Reply

True

Karen mersey   |   27 February 2016   |   Reply

I am hoping you will allow me to connect on linked in under my maiden name Karen Whiteman
Thanking you in advance
Karen

Cynthia Bazin   |   08 March 2016   |   Reply

Another awesome article Karin! Shared! Have a great evening!