Wednesday, February 13, 2019

3 Ways to Handle a Negative Coworker

It seems like everywhere I turn, someone is always talking or writing about "times like these." Usually, it's not "times like these are so great." It's usually something like, "Times like these are so horrible."

For a lot of people, this negative outlook on life becomes a big problem and they carry it like a heavy backpack with them wherever they go. They sigh when they sit down in a meeting. They mutter under their breath when others are talking about new ideas. They rarely contribute anything to discussions unless it's a criticism or complaint.

Eventually, you realize that this colleague's negative behavior is getting to you. Perhaps you even worry that her negativity is starting to rub off on you.

What can you do?

First, realize that you're not helpless -- do not start to believe that the negative colleague is in control. You are, and there are things you can do. Among them:

1. Study her. What makes her so hateful? Are there certain times that she's more negative than others? When you take the more "scientific" attitude to studying her, then you become less emotionally invested in what she does. Think of it as getting an inside look at what NOT to do.

2.  Stay calm. One of the reasons you're so upset with the negative behavior is because you know that it's having an impact on you. You think about the negativity at night, making it difficult to fall asleep. You know it's making you so tense that you are becoming more frustrated driving home after work, and worry you're developing road rage. Enough. It's time to disconnect from her bad behavior. Don't engage with her and try to find the "bright side" of life when she's being negative. Don't argue her point of view. "I guess we'll have to agree to disagree" can be your mantra when she tries to drag you down with her.

3. Start walking. You can't always walk away from a negative coworker, such as when you're in a meeting or she's working with you on a project. But once you're done interacting with her in a professional capacity, don't be hesitant about walking away. If you don't want to be rude, tell her you've got to return a phone call, meet with someone else, etc. But the physical act of walking away will help alleviate the emotional stress of dealing with her, and the physical activity will help lower your blood pressure and restore you equilibrium.

Finally, if you suspect your coworker's negativity may be related to depression or some other mental illness, go to your boss or human resources to relate your concerns. They are equipped to handle such an assessment better than you.

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