Avoid the Negative Drama at Work

So you want to improve the workplace and neutralize the negativity?

The distraction of negative energy in the workplace can sometimes drag an otherwise nice job into the depths. To make things more difficult, we are in the midst of cultural turmoil and a presidential political season…both of which can add negative energy in the form of stress.

Even without over the top cultural noise and political banter, coming to a negative work environment is a real challenge.  Since we spend over 50% of our waking hours there, let’s explore how we might improve things.

Assuming many of the negative energy circumstances we face are somehow embodied in the person(s) we interact with, that creates a question: ‘How do we get people to be more positive?’

For anyone that has actually tried to change the attitude/behavior of another person, we know it is something bordering on the impossible. It is hard to get a small child to do something they don’t wish to do, how much more so an adult? Taking on the challenge in this fashion may only add to the maelstrom. (Of course, we are not speaking here to managers with team members requiring attention…perhaps another day for that subject).

Instead, let’s look at it in the other direction. How can we help the person in the mirror be better equipped to manage negativity? If you can do that, it’s the first step to improve the workplace.

creating a strong workplace

3 Tips to Neutralize the Negativity, Starting with You

  • Stay on your own case. Heighten awareness of the negativity YOU bring to the office/world. Try identifying the source of your negativity and make it a personal project to minimize. For example, are you angry? Try forgiving; often. Start each day with self-talk freeing yourself from past hurts in your personal and office life.  Sometimes our ‘negativity tank’ is almost full before we even arrive at the office. When in this state, a little event can put us into an emotional RED zone.  Work on emptying yourself of negativity so that when something does comes your way, you have the emotional bandwidth to process it appropriately.
  • Step aside and let the evil pass. There is a time and season for everything. There are certainly times to defend and even confront. But those moments are much more infrequent than our ‘hair-trigger’ culture seems to suggest. When the negative comes your way, try mentally stepping to the side and ‘let it go past you’. Understand that the source of this negativity is often not about you but coming from another place entirely. By letting the negativity pass by, you neutralize it. If we do decide to take it on, an escalation can easily happen that yields little good. At a bare minimum, stepping aside can keep one free from entanglements that don’t belong to us like rumors, or office gossip/politics.
  • Reverse it. When the hurtful arrow does land, return it to its sender with kindness. It is amazing how often it is really just a simple misunderstanding, easily cleared up. By having gentleness inform the tone of our response we may find the arrow was really a poorly worded email or conversation meant to convey a completely different meaning. Responding in a harsh fashion may eliminate the possibility of the hurt being a non-event, as it should be. Of course, in some cases the hurt was actually intended. In those moments, start the response process with point one (1) of this blog and proceed cautiously and deliberately from there.

Well said by someone: if you want to improve the workplace, start with yourself. Doing these three little things will create a little protective bubble, helping one bear with a difficult environment.