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Fight back against negativity in the workplace

Fight negativity
Fight negativity
iStockphoto®/Steve Debenport

Negativity can be a killer. I once resigned from a job more because of the negative environment than any management or job changes. The company was making changes, but I consider myself to be fairly adaptable and generally work to accept change. The atmosphere around me was something more. It was a disease that infected everything.

I would come in every morning, after having fluffed myself back up the evening before, only to be greeted by the same grumbles, the same complaints and the same negativity and low employee morale.

It was not only breaking me down emotionally, but it had physical consequences, as well. I had two major surgeries in one year, and the doctors both indicated the primary cause of the medical problems was due to stress. The stress was primarily coming from my co-workers and not my employer. If you've
worked for any length of time, you realize change is just a part of any job. It was how the people around me were reacting to the changes that I just couldn't handle anymore.

I forgot I could be the master of my own emotions. I forgot to believe in myself and soon succumbed to the same negativity disease as my co-workers. When I think of this job, it is difficult to remember any happy moments even though I worked with some very nice people. The negativity disease was just too invasive and prevalent to even take some time to feel you put in a good day's work. Even worse, I brought that negativity home with me and shared the disease with my family and friends.

Conquer excess negativity by being practical

Nobody always pessimistic or always optimistic. Everyone experiences challenges in their lives. Everyone has been around a person who is so animatedly happy all the time, that they are like too much sugar. You've also likely been around people who are such whiners and complainers, you avoid them, as well.

Strike a balance with yourself. Ask yourself how you feel at the end of the workday, and why. Are you stressed, angry, depressed and exhausted? Are you truly at your wit's end? Ask yourself why. For example, are you stressed because you had to move out of your cubicle to another, or afraid of learning a new software installed for your job? What you may be feeling is the stress of temporarily not having the familiarity and control you had prior to the changes. Tell yourself this is perfectly normal. Get rid of the negative self-speak in your brain and open your mind to the potential benefits of these changes. Most importantly, make practical decisions for yourself, and don't get drawn into the gloomy atmosphere which will quickly become worse than the changes. Give yourself a chance to adapt, and if you are still having problems with the changes, talk to your supervisor our human resources.

Use opportunities to express your opinions

I'm not talking about turning a departmental meeting into a gripe session. You need to professionally, and positively, address your concerns. For example, if you believe learning a new software program may have an effect on your production, ask if the company is taking the training time into account when looking at the production for each employee. As your are learning, ask questions about the software and its functions. Be practical enough to believe the company had a reason and a plan when they decided to convert. You may feel better if you ask what the company believes will be the long-term benefits. Most importantly, don't close in on yourself and keep your fears inside. Take a positive approach and show a willingness to learn, adapt, and find out the overall goals.

Don't give into the negativity of others

If you encounter group people who have caught the pervasive negativity disease, don't blindly follow their path. Show empathy for their concerns and acknowledge that you heard them, but make an attempt to change the subject to something more positive, or at least more neutral. For instance, "I know how you feel Fred. Hey, my anniversary is this weekend. I'm tired of the places my wife and I usually eat, anyone try any good restaurants lately?" You feelings and decisions do not need to be complicated by the opinions of others. Change the mood and emotional environment around you, or excuse yourself from your normal workplace group. Trying humor is another good way to change the mood. Bring up something humorous a friend sent you over the internet, or bring up a happy thing you recently experienced. People in pain tend to want to share the pain with others. Try to elevate the mood or at least temporarily provide yourself with a more pleasant experience.

Avoid contributing the the negativity problem

No matter what challenges you are attempting to face, a negative attitude, negative speech and negative internal dialogue will make everything worse. Be sure to seek out the facts and understand them before you go into panic mode. Maintain a positive inner dialogue, positive thoughts go a long way to helping you cope with a negative environment. Don't be so quick to lose your self-confidence and continue to believe in yourself. Make sure to allow friends and family to help divert you from your
workplace issues. Sometimes getting away from that daily grind and daily thought pattern is just the cure for negativity.

Make sure you are thinking the problem through using a positive and practical thought pattern.