27 Mar

How to Negate Workplace Negativity

Workplace Negativity

The corporate arena is filled with master complainers constantly trumpeting their naysayer attitudes. People are worried about their job security or upset that they haven’t been promoted, so they have a tendency to be hypercritical or resentful and drag others down. Their ideas are reinforced by the media’s preoccupation with doom and gloom, giving them plenty of ammunition. On top of that it’s an election year, and the political campaign ads are all about mudslinging. So the whole atmosphere is polluted with potentially contagious negativity that can spread through the workplace faster than a flu epidemic.
Transcend energy-draining people and environments or you’ll never excel, and you certainly won’t have the power and persuasive influence to effectively lead. On the upside, recent studies have shown that employees who have positive, winning attitudes are the ones who rise faster to the top.

Here are five tips to ensure you remain on the positive side of the career equation:

  • Don’t Take it Personally

    I know this is hard to do. But realize that negative outbursts are usually a verbal symptom of pent-up hostility related to chaos in their own life. More often than not, it has nothing to do with you. They reach their tipping point and vent and you just happen to be there. If you react by becoming an active participant in their drama it only gets worse. You can lend a sympathetic ear if that’s appropriate to help them get it off their chest. But don’t get defensive or aggressive.

  • Don’t Get Entangled in the Spider Web

    Engaging in a reactive way will only infect you with their unhealthy attitude. As the old saying goes, if you hit back at a skunk you wind up carrying their stench with you. Don’t allow people to pull you down into their muck. Control your personal space – and that includes your emotional and psychological turf. You can always opt out of the negative conversations by saying “I made a New Year’s resolution to see the glass half full this year.”

  • Attitude is a Choice We Make

    Your frame of mind is not random, it’s a personal decision you make every day. So turn the dial on the radio of your mind to an upbeat station that plays encouragement, confidence, and gratitude. Tune out the agitating gossip, the speculative rumors, and the rumblings of dissatisfaction. Only you get to decide who and what lives inside your head. Don’t let in those unwanted guests or thoughts that deflate your optimism.

  • Inoculate Your Team with Positivity

    Routinely acknowledging the contributions of others and recognizing their efforts is the best and most proactive way to neutralize negativity. Give sincere praise whenever it’s warranted, and consistently express your appreciation for the work of others around you. Not only does this inoculate you from negative people but it can transform an entire workplace culture. But don’t pull this technique out of your hat only when you need it and find it convenient. That won’t work. You have to adopt a sustained mindset of acknowledging the contributions of others, and make this approach a natural component of your people skills and leadership style.

  • Take the High Road to Career Promotion

    The more adept you become at effectively managing people’s poor attitudes, the more valuable you become to your organization. Every company needs employees and leaders who can address these kinds of detrimental behaviors to improve morale and productivity. How you handle negative situations is an indicator of how you can handle greater responsibility. When these issues come up you can be sure that senior decision makers are making observations and taking notes. Distinguish yourself in a positive way and it helps pave the way to your next promotion.

I realize that implementation of these ideas can take some deliberate, conscious effort. But with repeated practice your positive attitude actually becomes wired into your brain. Each time you make the attempt it gets easier, until eventually grace and poise when confronted by negative pressure becomes second nature. You grow neurological pathways that help you default to a happier, more upbeat and stress-free outlook. In the process you also open up career pathways to greater success.


As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand.

Illustra Consulting
Copyright © 2012, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

1-800-267-3245, [email protected]
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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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Copyright © 2020, Sarah Hathorn, All rights reserved.
800-267-3245, [email protected]

This article may be reproduced only in its entirety, including the above bio.
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