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Working With Negative People

By Zelda Greenberg

Many people tell me there seems to always be one person in the office that is so negative that it affects the morale of all the others. It is really a shame that people let one bad apple spoil the entire office environment.

We all know that you cannot control what happens in the world but what you can control is how you react to life's situations. Does your office have that one bad seed, you know the office bully? Perhaps it's the person that never has anything nice to say about anyone or anything.

Sometimes it's just not possible to get rid of this person that is causing you and the others in the office mental pain. However, there are things you can do to minimize the anguish that negative attitudes cause in the work place. Remember you can't control your environment only the way you choose to react to the environment. Knowing the negative person isn't getting tossed out anytime soon, what can you do? Let's explore the possibilities.

Starting today, begin to create a positive working environment. Make every inch of your office a happy environment to spend the day. The way to begin is at the start of the hiring process. When you begin interviewing prospective employees you should be enthusiastic. Start to hire those people that exude a positive attitude. Once you begin hiring enthusiastic people the next step is to create an entire corporate positive attitude environment. At company meetings make sure that people are respected and that their thoughts and opinions are encouraged. Begin today to make a positive attitude part of your everyday office culture.

What can you do with the current staff and those that are affected by the ones that are constantly negative? You will need to identify those individuals that are negative. Some may me moderately negative and others can be down right toxic. Begin by having these individuals attend seminars and trade conferences. We all know that conferences and seminars are filled with people that are extremely positive. Surrounding one with positive people will influence their behavior in a positive manner. Positive attitudes are infectious. So expose negative staff members to positive stimulus.

One of my colleagues told me the story of how she attended monthly industry meetings. There was one individual that would never smile and was always negative towards her. My friend truly wanted to be friendly with the negative individual so she made a plan for the next meeting. The following month and each successive month she made it a point to be warm and friendly towards this negative person. It didn't take long for the negative individual to warm up and become friendly. This individual frequently wanted to reserve a seat next to my colleague. Her positive personality was contagious.

Another example was a man that had worked at our company for a number of years. Everything started out fine but over the years his personality began to clash with most everyone in the firm. He became very toxic. It was a happy day when this individual decided to resign. The entire office environment changed immediately. The culture had been dragged down by that individual. Once the toxic person was gone the office environment was much happier and people were warmer to each other. My advice is if you have a negative person in the office and nothing else works don't let them poison the entire office. Let them go and the sooner the better.

How do you avoid negativity in the workplace? Do you have an outlet for those people with complaints? Complaints can be handled with a simple suggestion box. You should make sure that someone checks the box and let people know their concerns are being addressed. Conduct regular scheduled meetings. Allow people to voice their complaints without being criticized. One solution to those that complain is instilling the rule that if you have a complaint you must also offer a viable solution.

Let's face it we all want to avoid the negativity in the work place. Another way to create a positive environment is to recognize individual contributions and achievements. Be sure you compliment and praise people for the good job that they do. Everyone needs a pat on the back so be generous in your praises. Not only should you compliment employees you should encourage everyone in the office to compliment each other. Try giving everyone 3X5 Compliment Cards. Encourage everyone to find something good to say about each other and write it down on the card. Have them distribute the cards during the week. You might even decide to post them on a "Job Well Done Wall."

You don't have to work around negative people. Set your bar high and expect everyone to be positive. Be sure to put everything in place to nurture a positive work environment. Negative people will drain the company morale and that produces slow production and cause a loss of revenue. Bottom line is you have to lead by example. So become a model and exude a positive attitude then the rest of the office staff will follow your lead.

Read other articles and learn more about Zelda Greenberg.

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