There are so many words for negative people at work!
This is the person who finds fault with everyone, and is quick to see what isn’t working with a project… usually carping about something, creating a black hole around them that effectively sucks positive energy into their vortex.
So, how can we handle this more creatively and get them to be more productive rather than spreading their contagious negativity round the office?
1. Put negativity skills to work
Be creative! Find tasks that make use of their talent to pick faults. That person might make a brilliant proofreader of company documents and external communiques (there’s too little proofreading these days). They will likely rejoice in finding, correcting and exposing all the mistakes, and be helping the company to shine in the process. Or perhaps the ideal project or position for a person always seeing what can go wrong, or is wrong, is in risk management, scenario planning or compliance. Such people are often brilliant with details, so let them bask in their “negative is clever’ state! But set the tone – you don’t want petty tyrants evolving.
2. Change yourself
Stop being annoyed by the negative force at work! Change yourself and see the person as a wonderful resource and turn this negativity into your advantage. Have you got a tender to submit? Or a pitch to make? Give it to the person who is most negative and ask them to be the receiver that can tear to shreds your patter, pitch or project. They’ll love it and you will be saved from delivering flawed work.
3. Encourage innovation
Of course, we mostly espouse that for every negative comment, every complaint, people make a constructive suggestion. So let’s steer them to innovate, to rise above what is wrong with our processes, our products and our service – come up with new approaches and become a star. They have probably forgotten what it is like to be acknowledged because everyone steers clear – sick of their negativity.
So to become a rising star or a champion of something – might just get them out of their negative rut.
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.