Dealing with Negative People at Work

Negative people at work, those who talk always of problems are extremely dangerous people for an organisation. Cancerous. A terrible virus from within, and they must not be permitted to influence and waste the time of others. Though this guidance is not the final word in effectively dealing with negative people, it is a powerful starting point !

In organisations I often see the consequences of this type of thinking and no more so than during meetings. Here are a few quick thoughts on the subject:

  1. Speaking of problems in meetings is an extremely ineffective and useless way to spend your time. For some people it makes them feel better discussing their situation or their feelings but it will not help the resolution of those problems.
  1. If you are the person running a meeting and you allow someone to whine about their problems you are just as much culpable as they are. If your boss is sitting in on your meeting and sees you allow this to take place, you will not look like promotional material.
  1. Whether this is the first or tenth time you are working on something, you are the best placed person to think of possible solutions to the problem. You are the front line. Especially so if you are new to the task as you might just actually help the company to devise a new way to do things with your “new eyes”.
  1. Suggesting solutions to problems to your bosses, even if your boss does not eventually go ahead with the solution is a far more professional approach. The conversation will become whether the solution is valid as opposed to simply trying to dissect the current problem. Time is spent being looking forward rather than pessimistic and backward looking. If you do this in a meeting with more senior people there you will certainly stand out from the crowd.

If you are the manager just do not let them talk always about the problem. Just ask:

“I understand this and you are 100% correct, yet what do you think is the best solution?”.

Discuss the solutions and find the one which is most valid and then decide. However remember, you may be able to delegate the decision but you can never delegate the responsibility. Poor bosses in the past have probably done this which is why your people act hostile to your question.

The Bottom Line

Do not allow what has become the normal behaviour of most people to discuss problems stop you from always looking to see what you can do to help your organisation. I know this might seem ridiculous but I assure you that striving to find solutions will make you more effective and more effective people achieve better results and people who achieve better results are happier in their role. It is your choice, a choice within your power, so please choose to be happy.

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