negative people

Expert panel: How to Handle Negative People on Your Team?

Tush Wijeratne

EMEA Head of Talent Acquisition @ GroupM

The key to understanding is what is considered “negativity “? Certain mannerisms, body language, and vocal comments can be interpreted as negativity but also this depends on the person doing the interpretation.

In the workplace, we all have individuals who are unique in their own way. With this also comes various personalities and what some deem as negativity others may call it a reality. Another aspect to consider is when different cultures come together the normal behavior of one culture v another could also show differences which could be interpreted as negativity. In short, it is important to identify true negativity v a biased interpretation of negativity. Different thoughts/ideas/ways of working etc do not equate to negativity.

The key is once “true negativity” is identified to understand the reason behind it. In my experience, it is always too important to look at it from that person’s view. It could be due to historical experiences, certain environments, change, and ambiguity. The root cause is important as this helps to take the individual/ team on the journey.

The world we know is not perfect, and there are a lot of obstacles we face regularly. As leaders, I believe our role, in addition to being motivating and inspirational, is to be also honest. Honesty is saying that sometimes things are not great, and yes, we all have negativity in some form or other in certain times/periods of our lives. That is being human. Teams respect the human leader rather than a drone.

Continue reading Wijeratne’s article Earn the trust of the team and then gradually, negativity disappears.

Alison Welch

001 Limited

Negativity in the workplace is a stealthy ninja, stealing passion and drive.  Never mind the toll that it takes on your mental being, it also manifests in physical ways.

Encouraging regular breaks, being open to conversations, and truly listening to the opinions of staff and other team members go a long way to developing a sense of unity and well-being within the workplace.

Raf Uzar

Head of Communication and Development, Penteris

Five Tips to Negate Negativity

Negativity often goes hand-in-hand with high performers. Research suggests that imposter syndrome is common among such individuals with studies suggesting that 80% of people in general have experienced such symptoms.

Ammongst colleagues in the Learning & Development and HR sectors, there is an incredible amount of self-doubt pervading the field. Most of the leaders in these areas, however, seem to be sure that there are ways in which we can fight this negativity. These can include the following:

1. Address Negativity Directly
Ignoring negativity can make it worse, but addressing it directly can help resolve the issue at speed. In a survey by the Association for Talent Development, 89% of respondents said that addressing negative behaviour directly is the most effective way to handle it. A study by the American Management Association has found that addressing negativity directly can also improve workplace morale and productivity.

2. Encourage Open Communication
Encouraging open communication can help address negative feelings before they escalate and get out of proportion. In a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 96% of employees said that open communication is important in their job satisfaction. Additionally, a study by Forbes found that companies with an open communication culture outperformed their peers 2.5 times.

3. Provide Recognition and Praise
Providing recognition and praise for positive behaviour can help counteract negativity. In a survey by Glassdoor, 63% of employees said that they would work harder if their efforts were better recognised. A study by the Ken Blanchard Companies found that providing regular recognition and praise can also increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

4. Foster a Positive Work Environment
A positive work environment can help mitigate negativity and promote productivity. In a study by the University of Warwick, researchers found that happiness led to a 12% increase in productivity. A study by Forbes also found that companies with a positive work environment have lower turnover rates and higher levels of employee engagement.

5. Lead by Example
Leaders who demonstrate positive behaviour and attitudes can influence the behaviour of their team members. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that employees are 75% more likely to exhibit positive behaviour when their leader does the same. Research by Forbes also found that employees who feel that their leader sets a positive example are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

Many leaders fight an ongoing battle with negativity and self-doubt, especially those who feel they are not built of the “right stuff”. This includes introverts and empaths. However, these five strategies can help leaders take the first step in dealing with negativity in the workplace.


About the author: Carla Banez
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