Negativity – a dark cloud over your head

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320px-Dark,_CloudsWhether it is a sunny or rainy day, there is always something to be said—that it is too hot or it’s gloomy.  There are people who will never appreciate the gift they have in front of them, but rather focus on the negative side of the equation.    They could be blessed with a promotion, but would turn around and complain that they have more work to do and the need to manage others.   They fail to see the benefit that their career is progressing in the right direction.

In the workplace, the negativity often rubs off on the people around them.  As they spread the bad news and rain on other people’s parade throughout the day, people around them start to feel down and upset about their situation.   It seems like it is a habit or a behavior that the person will never acknowledge.  They often say, “I’m just saying the truth.”  The truth or your truth is the question.   I’m of the belief that when we are paid to do a job, we do the best job we can and make sure we earn the money being paid to us.  We don’t want to short change anyone.  But the negative folks often think that they are adding value.    The negativity ends up being a productivity drain, because people are preoccupied with talking about something negative that has no direct relationship to what they do.   As a result they miss deadlines and the team can become dysfunctional.

What’s the best way to handle this situation?

  • Check your own environment – Is there something wrong with the culture or group dynamics?  What’s the source of negative energy?  By conducting an internal analysis, you’ll be able to uncover the source of the problem and address it.  Owning the problem is the first step in preventing the negative energy from impacting your team.  You’ll also gain the respect of your team.  If this is an environment problem, you need to see the elephant in the room and stop avoiding the issue.  It will keep coming up and interfere with your work.
  • Ignore the source of negative energy – If no one acknowledges the source and pays attention to their stories, the source will realize that they need to take their discussion elsewhere.
  • Face-to-face discussion – Dealing with the issue head on is by far the best way, because the source of the issue might not realize that he/she is causing a productivity drain.   During the discussion, make sure to provide specific situations and focus on the fact.  Avoid the “I think,” “I perceive” or “in my opinion” thing when dealing with the issue. Stay on point and cite specific instances and let the person explain the motivation behind such discussion.   If the person acknowledges the issue, come up with a development plan to address and monitor the issue.
  • Get rid of the source – With fast-paced businesses that demand more for the investments, we need to get rid of any unproductive resource, because if they don’t pull their weight, other people on the team have to step up to cover the gap.

Negativity is a huge energy and productivity drain in every organization.   Unless it is addressed, it will continue to erode the camaraderie of your team until it destroys it.  More importantly, negativity affects the people on your team.  Worse yet, it will spill over into their personal lives, which in my opinion is why it has to be addressed.

So the next time you observe that there is negativity hovering like a cloud at work, what will you do?  Please let me know your suggestion on how to address this.  It is through sharing that we can make this world a better place.