We’ve all encountered negative people in the workplace. No matter the circumstances, they’re never happy, always complaining, and always the first ones to find fault with others. Even when you’ve had successes, they’re quick to point out areas where you could have done better.
Negativity is natural. Our brains naturally tend to make a bigger deal out of bad things, than good things. However, according to psychologytoday.com, you can train your brain to be happier and more positive. “By focusing on the positive aspects of a situation, you actually build new neural structures in your brain.” They suggest bringing pleasant or happy experiences to the forefront of your mind and lingering on them for five seconds or more. “By doing this periodically, you will rewire your brain, making it more likely to notice positive things in the future.”
While you can’t affect how naysayers see the world, you can choose how their attitude affects you. You can either succumb to their negative energy and let it change your own outlook and confidence, or you can insulate yourself from it.
But what’s the best way to protect yourself from negativity in the workplace? In today’s inter-connected work environment, it’s impossible to completely avoid negative people. With that in mind, here’s a guide to help you minimize the effects of uncooperative and obstinate co-workers and employees.
- Look confident. Even if you have doubts, don’t allow them to surface. Act and behave with self-assurance and don’t allow critics to push your buttons. This means not stooping to their level and engaging in pointless and detrimental arguments. This is especially true when you’re the boss. Remember, at the end of the day, you have final say, so if you truly believe that you’re taking the right course of action, don’t let anyone dissuade you.
- Identify the sources of negativity in your workplace and set limits. If a co-worker or employee is constantly complaining and taking a “poor me” attitude, set clear boundaries. Limit the amount of time you spend talking about these complaints. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address legitimate concerns, but rather that you shouldn’t occupy too much time in your busy schedule listening to complaints that are unavoidable.
- Keep producing great results. If someone is constantly running down your ideas or achievements, doing a good job speaks for itself. Eventually their nitpicking will become apparent as just pettiness.
- The most assertive and direct tactic would be to approach the critic calmly, and seek to find out exactly why he or she is so down on you and your work. If you approach them rationally, most people, when confronted with evidence of their own poor behavior, will be shamed into improving their attitude.
Related article: Being Assertive Is all About Choosing the Best Words