Thursday, June 6, 2013

Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace

At one time or another we’ve all faced a negative attitude or work environment. Maybe your experience was short-lived, or perhaps it seems to be the standard M.O. for you. Are you are the culprit of the negativity or are you the victim?

Whatever your experiences have been, I’m sure you will agree that negative surroundings don’t help productivity, job enjoyment or success.
While there are some specific things you can do to overcome negativity, yours or those around you, there are three key essentials for success. Without them, you’ll never victoriously overcome negativity.

1. Recognize it is an issue: If you’re still reading, you probably agree with this piece. Negativity zaps our energy and enthusiasm. Negativity takes focus away from our work and prevents work from being enjoyable. The effects of negativity are real, and when you understand this, you have made it over the first hurdle to overpowering its effects.

2. Recognize that you can conquer it: Whether negativity is the norm or makes an occasional visit, you must believe that it can be conquered. If you’re thinking that isn’t possible, you’ve already given into the negativity far too much!

3. Recognize that it is about you: Yes, you read that correctly, it is about you. Whether you are the instigator or the intended target, you have a responsibility to overcome negative attitudes. There are things you can do and there are things in your control.

Five Things You Can Do

Make Their Day: When you know the source of the negativity, you can go out of your way to make their day. It won’t necessarily take a big effort or a lot of time. Acknowledge their feelings but without joining their pity party. Offer them a piece of candy, go to lunch with them. Be notably kind, listen and smile. Have any of these things or a dozen other similar things ever improved your attitude? I’m sure they have. And these things can make a difference for those around you as well. Make their day!

Turn the Tide: Is the glass half full or half empty? Most situations can be seen from more than one perspective. If your surroundings are negative, you know which perspective people will be seeing things from. If that is what people are seeing, and how they are responding, you can turn the tide. Ask questions that help people see things from a new point of view. It might take you awhile to build the habit of finding new, more positive outlooks, especially if your environment or co-workers are unceasingly negative or cynical. Being the voice of a new positive viewpoint can help turn the tide.

Don’t be a Host: Some people are hosts of a virus, even though they don’t have the symptoms themselves. Are you a host of the negativity, even if you aren’t especially negative yourself? Hosts sympathize with the instigators of negativity. Even if they don’t agree, they don’t disagree. By being vocal or taking action, you stop being a host, stop being a victim, and are taking action to conquer, reduce the impact of, or eliminate the negativity.

Be a Duck: Just because someone is being negative, doesn’t mean it has to impact you. You have a choice of how the attitudes of others will impact you. Water runs off a duck’s back – even when there is water all around them. They have been outfitted with the ability to feel the rain without getting wet. Think of negativity like rain, and just be a duck!

Learn Something New: Negativity often stems from stagnation and dullness. When we are growing we overall have a more positive view of things. If you’re feeling the effects of negativity; start learning something new. Try learning about a new procedure that another organization uses that might alleviate some of the frustration in your work group. Maybe it means learning more about the big picture goals of your organization so that you can see how your work fits in. Or maybe you choose to learn something new that is totally unrelated to the source of the negativity.

“There is very little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it’s positive or negative.”- Napolean Hill

These five steps make it sound pretty easy, but it’s not easy and you won’t change the negativity around in one or even two days. Don’t let that dissuade you. These things take time and patience. But trust me; it will be worth the effort