How to Effectively Manage Negative Co-Workers

interviews nervesWe have all dealt with that co-worker in the past; the one who constantly has something to complain about while at work. Sometimes its a person with a persistent negative attitude, and other times it is someone with legitimate complaints who seems to be more content whining than taking action to resolve the issue. The problem is that negativity has a way of rubbing off on each of us, whether that means filtering your own view of the workplace, or simply souring your mood to the point that you no longer enjoy being there. Learning how to deal with negative co-workers can help make the work environment more pleasant for everyone.


Often people just want to be heard, and when you are dealing with a particularly negative co-worker, the first step might simply be to hear them out. Perhaps you feel as though you have already been doing that, but if they are continuing to complain about the same issue; it is likely because they don’t feel as though anyone has listened to them. Give your negative co-worker your undivided attention for a period of time. Ask questions and express genuine care and concern for what they are going through. Pay attention to whether they seem to have a bunch of general complaints or are instead being plagued by one big issue. Listen for the root cause of their complaints, and don’t be too quick to discount where their negative attitude may be coming from.


If you think your co-worker might have at least some fair reasons for feeling negatively, consider whether there is any way you can help them navigate the situation. Perhaps they are feeling unappreciated, or as though they are struggling to keep up with their current workload. Ask about other things are going on in their lives which may be contributing to these struggles, and make suggestions where you feel they might be appropriate. Start making it a point to encourage your co-worker and recognise when they do good work and point out some of the positives which come with working for your corporation


You do have a choice in how you react, so rather than allowing your coworkers negativity to bring you down, choose instead to focus on the positive. Set an example and don’t get caught up in the complaining. It can be tempting when you too are feeling excessive pressures at work, but keeping your head up and making an active choice to avoid the negativity yourself can help. Your co-workers constant complaining will likely get frustrating after a point, particularly when you feel there is no action being made on their part to achieve any kind of change. Instead of allowing your frustration to shine through, however, reflect on the things that you personally enjoy about your job and company.


If your co-workers negativity continues to cloud your work space, it might be time to approach a supervisor or someone in human resources to help you resolve the issue. After encouraging your co-worker to focus on the positives, give it a few days and then if you feel comfortable, let them know that you need to maintain some positivity for yourself at work. If after doing that, they still seem to be committed to constant complaining and portraying an overwhelmingly negative attitude, schedule a meeting with someone higher up to discuss the issue. You don’t want to come across as a complainer yourself, but management does need to know if one person’s negativity is threatening to bring down the entire crew. Trust that human resources probably has a plan of action for increasing company morale, and this might be just the time to implement it.


kylie hammond

About Kylie Hammond
Executive Search Consultant, Head-Hunter, HR Consultant, Executive Career Coach, Expert Resume Writer & Executive Talent Agent.

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