Have you ever worked in an environment surrounded by pessimistic, negative and unsupportive co-workers? Hopefully not, but if you have there are ways to help make the environment better by doing your part to foster positivity. Many employees rely on self-morals and internal motivators to maneuver through the work environment in a way that gets them through each day. The more negativity that is allowed in to the psyche and environment, it can become more and more difficult to get through the work day. Sure, you can address a negative Nelly directly and ask her to change her mindset when it involves you or shared work, but often that confrontation can lead to conflict, hurt feelings or misunderstandings. So it may be best to start with improving your mindset, peer interactions and the words that come out of your mouth. Self-reflection and introspection is key. Here are a few ways that you can clear out the negativity around you in the work environment:
- Use the Whiteboard for Good Not Evil. If you have a whiteboard or corkboard in your office, post a positive affirmation daily, weekly or monthly. This statement or phrase can be a famous quote; an excerpt from an inspirational book, or; a personal affirmation made from your own thoughts. The key is it must be positive. For example, you can write: I will think positive and be positive today! At the beginning of each work day read the affirmation, speak it aloud and truly embrace what it means and try your best to abide by it throughout the day.
- Make a Negativity Jar. Similar to a “swear jar” this is a tool that can enlighten you to how many times you think negatively, speak negatively or convey a negative attitude while you are at work. Every time you express a negative thought, speak a negative word or behave in a negative way, charge yourself 25 cents. The key here is to be honest with yourself. If you follow through on depositing 25 cents in the jar, you may be shocked at how often you are negative. Keep in mind that this is not about your conduct related to reporting on poor sales data or unfavorable conversations you have to have as part of your job. This is about negativity in the form of ill-gossip, thinking ill-thoughts of a co-worker or just plain ‘ol trash-talking. Hopefully, the exercise will make you more aware of how you may be contributing to a negative work environment so much so that you work on being a better version of you.
If your negativity builds up a small bank in the jar, turn it in to something positive and buy your co-workers coffee and donuts one morning or give it to someone in need on the way home from work.
- Stand For Something. This by far may be the most difficult action to take in the workplace because it takes courage. If you are part of a conversation that takes a turn for the worst, such as when your co-workers begin to make fun of another co-worker or engage in bullying or other unkind acts – WALK AWAY! Do not participate or further the bad acts. There is no need for you to grandstand or chastise those who wish to participate (because frankly that isn’t appropriate either), but the simple act of stepping out of the conversation or act, may signal to the others that something is wrong and maybe it will cause them to question their own actions. If you are later approached by one of those “bad actors” and they ask why you left – if you are comfortable, feel free to express what was wrong with the situation as it pertained to you.
Be mindful that if you are in a supervisory role and you are witness to conduct that is against Company policy, you may have an obligation to report the conduct to your HR representative. Review your Company policies so that you are aware of your reporting obligations. Also, negative Nelly is a fictitious person and use of the name is not intended to offend anyone named Nelly.