Leadership Coach: Negativity At Work

By Louise Bauer Davoli

As we go through life we come across a variety of individuals with a wide range of characteristics. Some individuals bring us enjoyment and pleasure while others contaminate our environments, including the workplace. When negativity contaminates the workplace, it noticeably affects output and the bottom line.

Workplace negativity is basically fear. For many individuals in the workplace they have a sense of worry surrounding their job requirements and expectations, a fear of change, and a general sense of foreboding about the future. Negativity often hides either a sense of low self-confidence or a dread about things that might happen. For example, when your supervisor asks you to do a job that you are unfamiliar with, and your initial response includes why is he/she asking me to do this? I have no clue what to do and does he/she understand how long this will take? This internal conversation cultivates a negative perspective that you then direct toward your supervisor. You might also share your perspective with your co-workers whether or not they are interested in hearing your story. You have allowed yourself to be sucked into a fear-based place becoming negative without realizing what has occurred.

Sources of Negativity

-- Excessive workload
-- Concerns about management
-- Anxiety about the future
-- Lack of challenge
-- Insufficient recognition

Recognizing and acknowledging that negativity exist in your workplace is the first step to changing the environment. It is impossible to make a shift if you are in denial about the circumstances and behavior of some of the staff. When addressing negativity remember that the behavior is the issue not the individual staff.

Eradicate Negativity

-- You are in control
-- Communicate
-- Confrontation
-- Acknowledge behaviors
-- Empathy

Ultimately we are in control of our reality and our perceptions determine the way we see the world. You can choose to fill your work world with opportunities and enthusiasm through your perspective. When dealing with negative people give them plenty of opportunity to voice their feelings and thoughts. As they share their complaints, listen quietly and attentively then reflect back to the individuals for clarity. People want to be confronted, without feedback they don't know how they are doing. Acknowledge both their acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

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