How Your Attitude Affects the Workplace

Illustration of a nervous woman and an angry man

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 jeopardise 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

1. It reduces daily stress

Workplace stress is a genuine and growing problem. To find a resolution, it starts by understanding what is causing the stress in the first place. Before you think that you need to spend a huge sum of your HR budget on this matter, all you need to do is monitor the workplace for a few days.

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. Positivity can ensure that even the slightest of hiccups, the very ones that can metastasise your workstation neighbour’s day into a personal hell, fall off your back.

Put simply: positivity can allow you to experience greater success and perseverance.

2. It improves your leadership skills

Positivity is key to leadership. Who wants to look up to 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 if it is in the purview of your new position, you need to be positive. Studies have consistently found that alacrity can lead to organisational 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

HR experts continually encourage businesses to look for signs of a toxic work environment, even if everything seems fine. How can you spot toxicity? That is easy: check the number of ‘sick’ days.

This is when your personnel is not really sick simply take the day off just so they don’t have to deal with colleagues’ negative behaviour – bullying, gossiping or misery. Whether this is officewide or concentrated on a handful of employees, your company needs to probe the matter and determine what exactly is going on.

When more people in the office are positive, then it reduces these so-called sick days, because most staff members won’t feel the dread of a couple of bad apples. You can feel confident that your aspirations, achievements or ardour will not be frowned upon.

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

1. It demoralises 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 demoralising 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 behaviour, 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 ordering a lifetime supply of razor blades. Seriously, your misery is 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.

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!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 30 December 2014.