Guest Post By: Sheri Staak, Innovative Business Leader at Staak Report (learn more about Sheri at the end of this post)
If the media’s constant bad news about company layoffs, overseas outsourcing, and a decreased availability of jobs isn’t getting you down, the attitude at work probably is. In industry today, we’re all operating in a pressure-cooker environment, laden with deadlines, quotas, and conflicting personalities. With our driven, goal-oriented nature, we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do better, achieve more, and overall, work harder. All this stress, however, can lead to a hostile, negative office atmosphere.
Here are 9 techniques women can us to combat workplace negativity:
1. Identify the Source
When the mood is bad in the office, you may not even realize you’re operating in a negative environment. Too often, we just get used to the daily grind, and aren’t really aware there’s a problem to fix. Once you zero-in on the primary source of the negativity, you’ll be able to face it head on and ultimately defeat it. Is it one bad apple spoiling the bushel, or is it a particular set of circumstances that sets off a chain reaction of doom and gloom? Pay close attention to your colleagues’ behaviors, then try to step in and steer things in a positive direction when things start to sour.
2. Check Yourself
If you’re complaining, whining, joining in on gossip, making snap judgments, or commiserating often with your peers, you’re part of the problem! If you want to work in a positive environment, you can’t be negative yourself.
3. Confront with Caution
Don’t sweep negativity under the rug–it doesn’t go away, it just hides and festers. When you witness negative behaviors, communicate your concerns. But proceed with caution. The last thing you want to do is create more conflict in an already tense situation. Try a technique where you redirect the issue towards yourself. Say something like, “I wish I knew how to deal with all this negativity. How do you think we can make things more upbeat around here?” Whatever you do, don’t accuse, lay blame, or point fingers.
4. Be the Change
Gandhi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Same holds true in the office. Focus on positive thinking, no matter what the situation. Encourage, uplift, praise, and suggest ideas that promote favorable outcomes. The power of your own upbeat attitude may even be contagious.
5. Find out Why
There’s often a legitimate reason for the negativity within a team. Sometimes it goes beyond the general cliché complaints like “too much work, not enough pay, someone’s not pulling their weight, etc., etc.” Ask questions and voice concerns to get to the root of the problem. There could be a simple solution that, once addressed, will quickly change attitudes in the right direction.
6. Channel the Negative Energy
Not all negativity is bad. It just needs to be focused in the right direction. Channel the negativity to work together against a common outside “enemy,” i.e., the competition. Use it to work towards positive goals, like breaking a sales record or winning an industry award.
7. Align with a Mentor
Look for a role model that has successfully proven herself in the workplace. Find out her strategies for dealing with negativity, brainstorm solutions, and model your behaviors after her positive approaches. Turning to this trusted mentor when you need help, advise, and feedback, will keep you from turning negative.
8. Don’t be a Pushover
Just because you’re trying not to be negative doesn’t mean you can never say “no” or that you should overlook mistakes. Keep your expectations high and consistent, with any missteps discussed in a positive, strategy-based manner. Praise and compliment when warranted, but don’t be a pushover.
9. Pick your Battles
There’s only so much you can do. Your own positivism can have a major effect on the attitudes within a tight team environment, but may have little strength against larger corporate issues. Pick your battles, focusing most on your little corner of the work world.
Keeping positive in a negative environment can be challenging. But if you inject a positive attitude into everything you do, positive things will come your way. And you’ll most likely improve the collective mood of those around you as a result. When you and your co-workers are happier, less stressed, and more approachable, you’re better equipped as a team to focus on, meet, and even exceed your goals.
About the Author: Sheri Staak is a strategic and innovative business leader at The Staak Report who has held key leadership roles at both large privately held and publicly traded global companies. By harnessing her passion for leadership and teamwork, Sheri has become a trusted adviser and coach.