How Your Positive Attitude at Work Affects Others

See how being positive affects those around you!

Reviewed by Hayley Ramsey

How your attitude affects the workplace

Do you find that the morning watercooler talk is dominated by Phil, who spends all his free time handwringing and shrieking about how much he hates his job? Does your colleague Jane just complain about everyone and everything at the office from the moment she arrives at her desk to the time she calls it a day? 

Have you found yourself adopting these negative emotions? If so, then you might soon experience it impacting your attitude and, eventually, your job performance. 

A lot of people complain about the corporate sector imbibing our souls as we confine ourselves to a cubicle for eight hours a day. But what is not often discussed is how workplace attitudes can seriously jeopardize your capacity to complete your day-to-day tasks and hamper your ability to cope with the complex nature of your position. 

So, how do workplace attitudes hamstring employees, productivity and the bottom line? We’ve compiled a breakdown of how positive and negative attitudes can affect the office environment. 

Positive attitude 

Here are a few reasons why having a positive attitude and happy mindset at work is important for your productivity.  

1. It reduces daily stress 

If you compare the stress levels between someone who is always looking at the bright side of life and someone who only sees darkness at the end of the tunnel, you notice a significant chasm. It makes sense because you do not allow the small stuff to eat away at your soul and cause you to fall victim to the regime of trepidation. A good attitude can ensure that even the slightest of hiccups, the very ones that can metastasize your workstation neighbor’s day into a personal hell, fall off your back. 

Put simply, positivity can allow you to experience greater success and perseverance, despite the very real and growing problem that is workplace stress. 

2. It improves your mental productivity 

Positivity can help you remember stuff, think creatively, and find solutions faster. Not to mention, it draws people towards you. Who wants to work with somebody who is cynical of everything and forecasts disaster on an almost daily basis? The answer is nobody. Well, except the nihilists and their Wittgenstein and Schopenhauer! 

When you want to lead, or be seen as someone who can confidently take initiative, you need to be positive. Studies have consistently found that alacrity can lead to organizational success. And what is wrong with being ebullient, anyway? It seems like in this day and age, where being an existentialist is all the rage, anyone is considered a leper if they emit a hint of eagerness. 

3. It enhances interpersonal relations 

You’ve heard the expression “misery loves company”, and it’s true. However, it is also true that we need to avoid these people like the plague. But who needs that in their life, personally and professionally? As the meme goes: ain’t nobody got time for that! 

So, if you wish to bump up your interpersonal relations and skills, then it is imperative that you take the advice of legendary philosopher Charlie Brown: “Keep looking up. That’s the secret of life.” 

With this new outlook on your career development, you will see many benefits, particularly an improvement in teamwork. 

4. It cuts back on sick days 

Laughter is the best medicine, they say – and for good reason. Scientific experiments show a clear link between psychology and physiology, with “eudaimonia” (Greek for “good spirit”) benefitting the immune system directly. 

A shared positive attitude in the workplace can also determine the number of fake sick days requested. When personnel are not really sick, they may choose to pretend just so they don’t have to deal with colleagues’ negative behavior — bullying, gossiping, or misery. Does that ring any bells? 

It follows that when more people in the office are positive, it reduces both legitimate and unjustified sick days for everyone, because staff members won’t feel the dread of returning to work. 

5. It increases confidence in your abilities 

There is a direct connection between positivity and confidence. 

You can likely come up with a whole host of examples that highlight your zeal, leading to courage and determination. Whether it is leading a team meeting or heading a new project, your spirit and grit can guarantee tremendous confidence in your abilities to get the job done. 

If you do not have strong self-esteem, then how can others have faith in your hard and soft skills? 

Negative attitude 

So, now you know the benefits of being positive at work. But how does having a negative attitude affect your colleagues? 

1. It demoralizes your colleagues 

Just how bad is your negative attitude? There are many signs to know if you’re a morose employee, but one of them is that your disinterest and dismissal of everything related to the job is demoralizing your colleagues. They get to work in a cheerful mood and ready to kick off the week in high gear, but there you are: slouched in your chair, a burrowed frow, and repeatedly rolling your eyes. 

Should a colleague be pleased that they got a promotion, then you will rain on their parade by shrugging your shoulders and making a snide remark: “Oh, great! Now you can be a higher paid wage slave. No, really. Congratulations. I mean it with the utmost sincerity.” 

You will certainly be a person who will be showered with gifts at the annual Christmas party. Everybody will want to be your friend! 

2. It overshadows your achievements 

Let’s say that the company is going through a corporate restructuring, which is industry jargon for firing a bunch of people to save some money. As management goes through the list of employees who will survive the extinction event and who will not, they come across your name — with dread. The first thing that springs to mind is your negative behavior, not so much your accomplishments over the years. 

Indeed, you might be really good at your job, but if managers only think of the innumerable examples of your apathy, then it will be difficult for the decision-makers to select you over Billy Bob and Sally Sue. These two individuals are optimistic, excited and dedicated to the company. 

3. It hurts customer relations 

Have you ever walked into a store and got hit in the face by the high level of negativity? You approach the customer service representatives, and it is clear they hate their jobs and serving you is a chore. 

Whether your business handles corporate clients, or it deals with the consuming public, if patrons can immediately sense that you hate your job (or your life), then it is unlikely they will be interested in frequenting your firm. Of course, this makes management tolerating your indifference that much harder if your attitude towards work is turning away business. 

4. It decreases productivity levels 

It can be nearly impossible for the office to get work done if everyone is collectively miserable. Seriously, your misery is so contagious that your colleagues are sitting in their seats in a comatose-like state and looking for ways to kick the bucket. 

Productivity is key. But it is hard to complete your work if you’re only spending your shift complaining about the job or airing your grievances about your supervisor to anyone who will listen. And, at this point, it is unlikely that anybody will want to subject themselves to your disdain. 

5. It creates a toxic work environment 

Unfortunately, all it can take is just one person who can transform the business into a toxic work environment. In addition to your perpetual negativity, your non-stop gossiping, uncouth attitude and chronic complaining are making everyone dread coming into work. The toxicity is so rampant in the atmosphere that personnel needs to wear nuclear radiation suits to avoid pessimism! 

But others can contract your paucity of enthusiasm — that is putting it politely — and then the entire workforce is ill with gloom. 

How to improve your attitude in the workplace 

Some people are, by nature, more bubbly than others. If you’re a “glass half-empty” thinker (especially when you’re in the office), here are some things you can do to nurture a more positive outlook. 

1. Keep a gratitude journal 

A bad day doesn’t mean a bad life, as your favorite inspirational Instagram account often tells you and it’s true! Every day has something good to offer. Maybe that really cute barista smiled at you in the morning. Or maybe you got a work compliment from your supervisor. When you pay attention, record these joys, and express gratitude, your day-to-day life can improve tremendously. 

2. Practice positive affirmations 

To experience the power of positive thoughts, you must first identify what things are bringing you down. Is your (micro)manager making you feel incompetent? Are your colleagues whispering behind your back? 

Though you can’t control how others act, you can always remind yourself that your worth isn’t tied to someone else’s opinion of you. Repeating simple affirmations every day, like I am smart and capable and my job doesn’t define me can remedy your negative outlook. 

3. Surround yourself with positive people 

Sometimes, experiencing positive emotional reactions depends on who we have around us. At work and at home, it’s good to pay attention to the kind of energy we immerse ourselves in. If all we do with our friends, spouses, or family is wallow in misery, then we will remain stuck in ever-intensifying negative thoughts. 

So, next time the office gossip invites you to lunch, maybe it’s best to politely decline. 

4. Develop a stress relief strategy 

Effective stress management can help you maintain a positive attitude at work. If you’re unsure where to begin, divide the process in two: minimizing the possibility of stress occurring in the first place, and relieving stress when it comes. 

The first can look like avoiding conflict with your colleagues or improving your organizational and time-management skills. 

The latter can mean going for a walk on your break and practicing mindfulness to release stress. 

5. Learn to say “no” 

No is the magic word that can protect your sanity, work-life balance, and sense of self-respect. If you’re constantly taking on extra work with a smile on your face yet seething on the inside, you’re doing yourself a disservice. 

Declining requests when your mental resources are depleted illustrates where your boundaries lie. This can become a great confidence booster in the long term, and confidence is important when you’re working on staying positive. 

Final thoughts 

Sure, it is true that there can be such a thing as too much positivity. You do not want to be so positive that you are not bothered by missing quarterly sales projections or you dismiss a brewing problem that could impact your company’s competitiveness in the industry. 

Therefore, it is important to strike a fine balance between positivity and negativity. Of course, it is always better to be a more upbeat individual than an undesirable person, especially in the workplace. But, as the saying goes, everything in moderation. 

Do you have anything you’d like to add? Join the conversation down below and let us know! 


Originally published December 20, 2014. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.