How To Deal With Negative Coworkers
Negative thinkers approach life with such futility and hopelessness that they give up before they even try. They are the ones who shoot down every good idea, whether it’s at a meeting or presentation. They are so sincere in their belief that things won’t work; they can’t understand why you don’t see it, too.
The negative thinker is often a perfectionist who wants to get things right and not make mistakes. This person has high standards for what should be done, when it should be done, who should do it, and how it should be done which are not measured up to in life. So this difficult person believes everything will go wrong now and in the future.
This difficult person has a wide-ranging effect because negativity affects everybody around him. He is not intentionally trying to ruin things for everyone; he genuinely believes that things are as hopeless as he thinks they are.
Your goal in working with this difficult person is to move him from fault finding and negativity to problem solving and improvement. It’s probably very tempting to come out and tell the negative thinker that things aren’t nearly as bad as he thinks they are. But that would be a bad idea. Studies have shown that when you try to make this person more positive, you only end up becoming more negative yourself. He will drag you down with him if you are not careful.
One way to look at this person is to see him as an early warning signal of trouble. Many times the negative thinking person sees flaws that are really there. Try to appreciate this difficult person for his good intentions and for having such high standards. At least he cares enough that he is willing to speak up about details he’s concerned with.
As for dealing with his negativity, insist that he not bring up negative aspects of a situation unless he is willing to brainstorm solutions. Remind him that he and his co-workers are creative and intelligent and are capable of finding solutions to complex problems.
Encourage him to throw out possible solutions, no matter how unlikely they may be to implement – he might surprise you, and give it a try.
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