Professional Development Work Relationships

4 Ways to Combat Negativity at Work

Written by Peter Jones

We all have that one co-worker who’s just plain… negative. He or she comes in from the elevator followed by a sad, grey cloud. They spend all of their time grumbling about work—having either too much or too little, and their personal lives don’t sound much better. There’s always one in every office, and often to caricatured proportions. But it can be easy to drift into that negative territory.

Just to make sure you haven’t taken on any of these bad habits or deflated attitudes, be on the look-out for the following four signs of encroaching negativity at work.  Avoid your own black cloud.

Watch Your Posture

Remember your first days on the job? You came to work all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, spine straight, head up, typing with your fingers on your home keys, sitting tall in your swivel chair, and drinking vegetable juice for lunch! Or, you know, some version of that kind of effort.

But with time, and setbacks, and disappointments, your bad moods have started to sink into your bones. Before you know it, you’re slouched over your keys, slumping as you walk, and sneering at your screen. Even if you’re just stressed or inattentive to the ways in which your posture might be wavering, it’s making you look bad to your boss, who values positivity in outlook and professionalism in demeanor. Straighten up!

Curb the Complaints

It’s too cold, too hot. The meeting was too long, too short. The coffee sucks. The vacation package sucks. Your insurance sucks. Your weekend sucked. The printer… don’t get me started on the printer.

Make sure you’re not constantly complaining, even if there are things that you could (reasonably) constantly complain about. And stop complaining altogether about things not in your power to change. If you find yourself ranting and raving for 20 minutes at a time, sit yourself down and ask why you’re suddenly so frustrated at work. But whatever you do, keep the complaining to a minimum. Start to notice every time you do it and keep track.

Force Yourself to be Friendly

That sounds awful, but how many people pop by your cubicle for a chat? Ask you to grab a coffee? Wait for you to head to lunch? If the answer is no one (especially if it used to be everyone), then you have some work to do. Not spending at least a small part of your workday chatting to coworkers is a pretty good sign that you’re not universally well-liked. Even if you aren’t a people person, try encouraging a little more social atmosphere. And the best way to make friends is to be upbeat and pleasant to be around!

Can the Pessimism

Land a new project? Get a promotion? Is your first thought one of annoyance at how much extra work you’ll have to do? Or what stress you will be under? Or how many more hours you’ll have to log? That’s a bad sign. When even good news seems like bad news, it’s time to give yourself an outlook makeover.

But don’t worry! Even if you have slipped into the negativity bubble, it’s not too late to pull yourself back into the light. Remember, nobody likes a Negative Nelly. Get yourself back on the right track.

About the author

Peter Jones