Handling negativity in the workplace
What is the most frequent emotion that you “catch” while you are in office?
Is it the smile from a co-worker or a frown from your manager? Is it the seething anger from your colleague that makes you livid or an appreciation from the boss that makes you flush? Are you the person who fidgets with the fear of rejection? Or are you the person whose motivation levels are always touching skies?
I am asking because it’s important. I want to know what bothers people. In my earlier editions of newsletters, I talked about the role of emotions in life and EQ in workspaces. But recently, I witnessed a few instances where I felt that negativity in the workplace is contagious.
When a team is upbeat and positive, this happy spirit is transferred to every person on the team and work seems to flow effortlessly. However, throw a bout of cynicism and the team’s spirit hits rock bottom. One negative thought breathes life into another and we convince ourselves that organization is full of bozos who don’t care. And slowly, the perception of negativity takes such a strong hold on us that we feel things are never going to change.
Have you been in a similar situation? Do you ever wonder why we are always stuck in the negatives? When you are going through a bad day, do you ever take a moment to think that maybe your job is perfect but some miserable external factor is keeping you company? And maybe, you need to get rid of that emotion and not our job?
The familiar adage- “people don’t leave jobs they leave managers”, I wish it had a background story to it. I wish it was not just a creatively crafted platitude. You see, sometimes leaving isn’t about the profile or the manager. It’s about the black hole of negativity that we build around us — a black hole which sucks every hope of positivity.
What troubles me is that people don’t understand that negativity is temporary– it’s scope is limited. Moreover, the cause is mostly internal. We become glued to the idea that a negative event will lead to another and so on and will continue to haunt them for an eternity.
Pfft..that’s not even logical. Nothing in this world is eternal. Even happiness is perishable.
So what’s my rant about?
Get yourself unstuck.
Stop believing the negative bedtime stories that you have been telling yourself. The organization’s sole purpose is to create value, not make its people’s lives miserable.
No workplace is immune to negativity. The key is to not let your thoughts make negative impressions about the people or the company or block your view of the bigger picture. They key to challenge that mentality which waves hands in the air and says “things are never gonna change.”
You could start by knowing what’s killing your positivity. Here are seven signs to know if you are working in a negative environment. Know these signs and step up to make things right. I have a few recommendations to make-
1. Don’t get swayed by gossip
Unfortunately, some organizations have a group of gossip mongers. These are the people who have plenty of material and skills to spread the news to every possible corner. From discussing personal matters to I-know-why-you-didn’t-get-a-promotion-this-time, they are the ones who spread rumors about everything.
Alert! Stay away from Goody-two-shoes.
Their pretentious personalities might blur your vision. Always know the facts, just don’t get wrapped up in the gossip vine. Talk to people or ask for clarifications in case you need to know the truth. Here is some good advice on how to respond to a co-worker who won’t stop gossiping.
2. Stop blaming others
It is easy to point fingers at others and steer clear of any mistake. But there is a thin line between defensive behavior and playing the blame-game. If you see that your team is pointing fingers at each other, know that it’s time to fix the problem. When a problem comes, involve everyone and tell them to “own it”. Plan corrective actions together. Take ownership, lead the way and others will follow. Here’s how you can end the blame game at work.
3. Start expressing gratitude
Do you know what’s the antidote to negativity? Happiness. And random acts of kindness. Gratitude makes us healthier. So, be grateful to your team members for smallest of things. Say thanks more than often. It will not only make you smile but it will also help someone else go through a dreary day. You never know what the other person is going through.
4. Don’t wait for others to fix the situation
If negativity dwells in your workplace, it’s easy to assume that someone, ahem…a manager, who is trained to handle such situations will take care of it. We sometimes catch on to this victim mentality and think that fleeing from the job is always an option.
We forget that workplaces, like our personal relationships, are made up ofummm…humans. And just like in our personal relationships when things go wrong, we try to mend them by steering towards positivity, in the same way, you need to address the issues here.
You could start with bringing together people who are involved and are going through a similar phase. Form a problem-solving team. Identify the causes of negativity and develop an action plan. At each step, communicate excessively about the steps you need to take to tackle negativity.
Try these suggestions next time when negativity takes hold of your rationality. And share them with others whom you know are facing workplace negativity. I hope it improves your workplace atmosphere.
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