5 Ways To Deal With Negative People In The Workplace

There are ways to deal with negative people in the workplace. If you’re forced to work with a negative person, set boundaries.

You know the type of people I’m talking about.

That gossipy, mean, rude, nitpicking, scheming, or otherwise negative person you just can’t seem to escape at work.

At some point, everyone has or has had that friend or coworker who sucks the energy right out of you, complaining about how things should be done in the workplace or how the world is set against him or her. Unfortunately, you must deal with many different negative people throughout your life and in various types of environments.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with negative people. Try some of these tactics:

1. Provide Support

The first time you encounter a coworker or someone you know being negative, provide a listening, compassionate ear. Try to help if they need it. Everyone has a bad day or needs a hand with something on occasion. You don’t want to make a hasty dismissal of a friend or coworker who is simply in need.

f the person continues to harp on the same negative topics, you feel emotionally exhausted after you interact with them, and they overwhelmingly use negative words and phrases (I can’t, they didn’t, I hate, etc.), that’s when it’s time to try to disarm their negativity with positive responses.

2. Don’t Engage

When confronted with a negative person it’s really easy to get sucked into their spiral of negativity. Choosing not to engage doesn’t mean ignoring them, but it does mean maintaining your emotional distance.

Negative people tend to exaggerate, focus on their negativity, and ignore the positive. Instead of trying to make them see how they’re being negative (which usually only leads to confrontation and reinforcement of their ideas that everyone is against them), try giving noncommittal answers that neither encourage nor condemn the negativity. Okay, or I see, are two examples.

3. Use Appreciative Inquiry

If the person demonstrates negativity on certain events or subjects, you can have a conversation with them using a technique called appreciative inquiry. Appreciative inquiry is a process of asking questions to help the person envision a more positive future. If they are complaining about a past event, you can ask questions focusing on the positive aspects of their experiences or pose questions about the future.

These questions might include, What do you hope would happen next time? or How would you have set that up?

These types of questions should lead to a story about what a brighter future would look like and how to achieve that future.

4. Change The Conversation

If appreciative inquiry does not lead to a productive, positive conversation, then gently steer the conversation toward something more innocuous.

For example, you might say, I understand that you’re upset about your coworker. That must have been difficult. So, tell me more about your plans for this weekend. Or, Wow, that sounds like a nightmare. So, did you see that new television special?

5. Distance Yourself

If you share workspace, putting physical distance between your negative coworker and yourself may not be possible, but try. Watch for space opening up that you could lay claim to. Find a reason you need to work somewhere else in the office.


You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life

About the Author

Hazel Burgess

Hazel Burgess is the Founder and Creative Director of Envisager Studio, a premier website design agency specializing in WordPress website design, development and content marketing promotion. The company is based in San Diego, CA and works with companies that range from small business to Fortune 500. Follow +Hazel Burgess on Google+ as well as Twitter.

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