Addressing Negative Attitude in the Workplace

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Negative speech and attitudes at work can disrupt the workplace and affect productivity. This lesson discusses how to address the negative attitudes in an effective manner to make sure your workplace is one that is conducive to change.

Different Kinds of Negativity in the Workplace

Have you ever had someone in your office who was constantly negative? No matter what you are doing, whether it is regular day-to-day activities or even hanging out at a work picnic, they're still negative. Each office has encountered a person like this, so it is important to know how to resolve these kinds of situations.

Negativity can bring down morale, which may affect the workplace. Studies show that people's moods can be contagious. If you are a positive person, people are likely to be drawn to you and may start to show positivity. Unfortunately, the same goes for negative people. The individuals that complain and gripe about everything often gain a following of people that do the same.

People with negative attitudes are often unable to see the positives in an environment. So during meetings or group sessions, they may spend their time only discussing the issues, without developing solutions or acknowledging new and positive aspects of the environment. This consistent negativity can affect the office so much so that other employees may want to leave. This is especially true if the negative attitudes lead to bad behaviors. Some of the behaviors include:

  • Being rude to fellow employees/management/customers
  • Gossiping or spreading rumors
  • Having a need for control

Each of these behaviors and attitudes create different issues in the workplace; however, all of them can be handled in much the same way.

Negativity can affect the workplace

Analyzing the Workplace Environment

First, when trying to root out negativity, it's important to analyze the person's attitude and the effect it is having on the office. Is it bringing down the morale of the team? Is it making other employees think about quitting? Is is affecting work productivity and quality? Each of these questions and answers will address how severe the issue is. How the situation is addressed depends on its severity.

How to Address Negativity

Now you must realize you cannot just let the attitude go. You need to address the issue immediately so it does not become like an infectious disease in your office, creating more negative attitudes. The more employees that are constantly upset about their job, the more difficult the issue is to address. In addition, the original negative employee's attitude may increase in severity. So speak with the employee the moment you realize the negative attitude is a trend.

Steps to Take Ahead of Time

  • Do not be their friend - Many offices have managers that will try and be friends with their employees, which makes it even more challenging to address attitude and behavioral issues. Instead, be respectful and friendly, but always be the manager. This makes sure that your role as manager is set ahead of time.
  • Set clear guidelines - Make sure the rules for your team are known by everyone. Address attitude requirements up front. Although you cannot require everyone to be cheery all the time, you can require respect to be shown to everyone. These guidelines, if set up early, can be addressed later with employees as needed.
  • Have venting/solution meetings - Work gets stressful, so having meetings where teams can get together and vent about issues and try to brainstorm solutions can turn a negative environment into a more positive one. This may also create a better team dynamic and relationship because now everyone is working together.

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