Co-worker Relationships: Dealing with a Negative Colleague

negative coworker

Every work environment has at least one – a negative Nick or Nelly. This is the person who goes out of his or her way to drag everyone down with frequent complaints, negative talk, and disagreeableness. Generally unhappy, this individual makes it a point to be difficult in every work scenario, from meetings to client interaction. It seems like one day someone might go as far as punching this negative person square in the face, but it never happens.

Keeping the Negative at Bay

Perhaps the worst aspect of a negative colleague is the impact that the individual has on the overall employee morale and workplace culture – especially if this means daily interaction. But take note. If you are faced with coping with a negative colleague at your job, there are ways to protect yourself from the waves of destructive tendencies that this person gives off. Keep the bad energy away with these tips for dealing with a negative co-worker, and improve your working relationship in the process.

Refuse to Engage

The first step in your battle of repelling any negativity around you is to not get sucked into this way of thinking. It’s easy to sink into negative thought patterns because work can become frustrating and dull at times. Before you know it, the negativity creeps into your attitude about work and your negative co-worker finds a reason to relish in this with you. Or worse yet – the person turns their negative behaviors towards you and tries to sabotage your job.

Instead, when your negative colleague starts complaining – disengage from the conversation as soon as things turn sour. Deflect things by bringing up a positive idea or changing the topic altogether. By refusing to engage in negative conversation, your co-worker will either have to change his stance or move on to another ‘victim’.

Demonstrate Respect

The corporate office culture is a big issue these days. Having an environment where all workers are respected for their contributions, ideas, and achievements is vital for reducing negativity. When a co-worker starts to complain about any area of work, this is often a sign that they believe they are not getting the respect they deserve.

Turn things around by making respect a core value in your corporate culture. Step up as a professional and demonstrate this respect in your interactions with your co-workers. Ask your company human resource manager to bring up a discussion about this topic at the next staffing development meeting. Show respect, even when faced with a negative colleague or client. Your actions will become infectious and others will follow suit.

It’s About Perception

Oftentimes, a negative colleague gets that way over time because he or she doesn’t see things the way that others do. The negative individual may believe strongly in fairness at work, but gets passed over frequently for special projects or promotions. Perception at work is a gray area with most people. The way that you perceive the workplace may be vastly different from the way your negative colleague does.

Try to be understanding of the differences in perception and find ways to open up communication to understand on a deeper level. Even if you are uncomfortable, let the negative person vent a little and then offer encouraging feedback. You may be the only person to truly hear this person’s concerns. However, do not take it to heart – simply see it as one person’s way of seeing the world and relating to others.

If office negativity is not kept in check, it can ruin an otherwise efficient work team and break down relationships between co-workers very rapidly. Do not avoid or run from the negative person at work. Instead, listen to him or her and find ways to turn that negativity into a positive conversation that leads to more positive work habits.

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