Neutralizing Workplace Negativity

by  Scott Mautz  |  Team Dynamics
Neutralizing Workplace Negativity

The causes of negativity in the workplace are too many to count, but you can count on any one of them impacting the sense of community present in an organization.

The multiplier effect that even one negative personality can have on an organization should be seen as too much to bear.

Here are five ways you can keep negativity at bay.

  • Drive Awareness Of The Behavior’s Impact – Negative individuals might not realize the full extent of the corrosive impact they are having. Furthermore, it is critical to make it clear that the negative behavior won’t be tolerated. In fact, it is your responsibility–after all, you will get the behavior you tolerate.
  • Switch The “-Isms” – Go from pessimism to optimism. It sounds simple. But continually having to counter pessimists with positivity can be positively draining. Sticking at it, however, wears down the naysayer and reinforces to them that their negative behaviors are unwelcome. The pessimists may eventually get caught up in the optimism and thus vastly increase their capacity to contribute in a productive manner.
  • Challenge Cynics – Cynics get their power when no one challenges them–their acidic statements can seem smart in the absence of a countering force. Challenge their statements and invite them to be a part of the solution instead. If they can’t suggest solutions, they lose their power.
  • Don’t Let Falsehoods & Ferocity Fester – Speak up. Stating nothing in the face of falsehoods, unduly negative commentary, or vicious pessimism is as bad as adding to it. Don’t get sucked into the orbit of negativity.
  • Build People’s Self-Image & Redirect Their energy – Negative individuals may have a lot of negative things going on behind the scenes. Demonstrate empathy and find places to build their self-esteem. Get to work on redirecting their energy.
What strategy would you add for keeping negativity at bay?
Photo Credit: Fotolia kikkerderk

About The Author

Articles By scott-mautz
Scott Mautz is author of Make It Matter: How Managers Can Motivate by Creating Meaning , which was just named a “Best Book of 2015” by Soundview BusinessBooks. He’s also an award winning keynote speaker, and a 20+ year veteran of Procter & Gamble, having run several thriving, multi-billion dollar divisions along the way. Connect with Scott at  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John E. Smith  |  03 Dec 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Scott:)

Nice article and you have given us five solid suggestions.

I particularly like the comment in your third point about how “Cynics get their power when no one challenges them”. I am currently reading a fascinating book titled “Intelligent Disobediance” by Ira Chaleff which touches on this repeatedly.

Many of the reasons that cynics are not challenged are the same as those for people not resisting illegal or bad decisions in organizations, and the ways to change people’s behavior would apply here as well.

I enjoyed this post a lot.


Join The Conversation