Positive Steps for Handling Negativity at Work

We’ve all heard the saying that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. The same is true of negativity in the workplace. A single employee’s negative attitude can bring coworkers down and hurt morale. So how can you combat it?

* Confront the offender. While it may seem easier to ignore a problem and hope it goes away, that rarely works. In fact, the problem usually just keeps getting worse until you have no choice but to act. When you see someone displaying a negative attitude (or hear about it from coworkers), sit the person down and let them know their attitude is not acceptable.
* Get to the root of the problem. In your meeting, try to discover the cause of the person’s dissatisfaction. Perhaps they feel slighted by something that happened at work. They may think someone else received preferential treatment over them or that what they do goes unnoticed and unrecognized. Whatever the case, hear them out and acknowledge their feelings, even if you disagree. Share your own thoughts, discuss the issues, and try not to be too confrontational.
* Seek solutions. As you’re discussing issues, look for ways to resolve them as best you can. Keep in mind that not all grievances can be easily solved and not all negativity is completely work-related. However, approaching the situation with a solutions-oriented mindset should help at least let the person know you’re taking their well-being seriously.
* Hold your ground. No matter the outcome of your meeting, make it clear that the employee is responsible for their own actions and that continued negativity will not be tolerated. Spell out the consequences and stand firm in your resolve.
* Reward positivity. Hopefully, your meeting and the solutions you devise together will trigger an attitude shift in your employee. As you notice changes, offer positive reinforcement and encouragement. Of course, even if you don’t see changes in the employee, try not to get too discouraged. Instead, focus on the more positive members of your team. Reinforce, reward, and encourage their attitude and its positive influence on those around them.

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