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Don’t let Mr Grumpy ruin your day

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It’s not unusual to feel frustrated, unappreciated and dissatisfied some of the time. However, constant complainers can drain the energy out of a work environment in no time. With a few clever comments, they can change even good news into bad – and damage a team’s mood and productivity.

Consider the following scenario:

Positive Peter: “Wow, we’ve received our first order for this new product!”



Negative Nellie: “Right, from only one customer?”

After an extended silence Positive Peter replies: “Well, we also got 20 responses to the launch email we sent out.”

 “Yeah we sent around 100 launch emails, so 80% of them were just not interested,” Negative Nellie snarls.

With that Positive Peter’s enthusiasm suddenly wanes and he feels despondent and de-motivated for the rest of the day. It really is that easy for a negative attitude to upstage even a productive business environment. Studies have shown that consistently negative people have a far deeper impact than positive ones[1], which makes it all the more critical to counteract destructive behaviour before it is too late.



With that in mind, here are some sure-fire ways to combat negativity at the office.

1. Don’t take negativity seriously
It’s ok to listen, but don’t make others’ negativity your own. Stick to your own opinion of a situation and don’t actively participate in negative conversation. If you don’t add fuel to the fire, it will eventually burn out.

2. Compliment the negative person
Pick out the things you can honestly appreciate – from shoes to work skills. Positive Peter could reposition the statement by pointing out that a 20% response rate is on average really high and that it must be because Nellie’s design was well received.

3. Use a touch of humour
Humour can go a long way in breaking the tension within an office environment. Laughter can quickly change a mood for the better and help to create a fun environment where people are encouraged to be more positive.

4. Cut the conversation short
It can get you into a tangle to try and oppose negative comments. Rather use clever words and phrases to finish the conversation early. Positive Peter could simply say: “Well, let’s just wait and see what happens.”

5. Consider your office relationships
If someone is throwing negative comments at you, you may need to consider your own attitude towards that person. People often subconsciously give what they get and it may be worth looking at how you can improve your own relationships with your colleagues.

Remain aware of your attitude
It’s important for your work environment and your overall well-being to find ways to stay positive. With a little positive energy you’ll no doubt watch the atmosphere around you brighten up – perhaps slowly, but surely. However, if you do find your own positive attitude tainted, keep yourself in check with the following tips:

  • Think before you say something
    If that comment you’re about to make won’t help the company, your customers, the person you’re talking to or the person you’re talking about, just don’t say it.
  • Stay in control of yourself
    Whatever may be happening at the office, you have the power to control your own actions and reactions. You can make a choice and you can make a change.
  • Find new ways to clear your mind
    A quiet walk, weekend gardening or listening to relaxing music – some people find talking to their pets also helps them get issues off their chests.
  • Personal renewal outside of work
    Regular exercise and a nourishing diet can work wonders in building up your strength. It also helps to have a support network and regular hobbies.

Keeping a positive attitude is essential; however negativity also has its place. Sometimes listening to that pessimist objectively can help to uncover new truths about a situation. The key is to balance both the positive and negative sides of a story – without being overwhelmed by either – in order to ensure an honest and productive work environment.

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