Article: Dealing with negative yet productive co-workers

Culture

Dealing with negative yet productive co-workers

There is a whole bunch of colleagues – some are happy, some are cynics. The real challenge is how to tactfully handle the latter in order to succeed at work.
Dealing with negative yet productive co-workers

Ashish was going to get himself a cup of coffee at work when he bumped into Ketan – his colleague from a different team. By the time they finished their 15-minute conversation, Ashish came back to his cubicle feeling dejected, utterly disappointed and with an absolute disregard for his work. His work for the day suffered, and his productivity was almost nil on that day. Ketan, on the other hand continued to work with élan, and finished his projects and went about home as usual. But what transpired between the two? It took Ashish a week and two more meetings with Ketan to realise what happened to him. Ketan is distinguishingly negative in his approach towards life – he cribs about everything that takes place at work, in life, at home. He cannot but talk only about negative aspects of life – any conversation with Ketan will drain out the energy of the other person, and that’s what had happened to Ashish. 

Ashish spoke to few of his colleagues, who echoed the same thing about Ketan, and they decided to talk to their manager. But the hiring manager suggested that since Ketan comes with certain valuable skill sets, it becomes difficult and expensive for the company to replace him, and also his work has never suffered due to his negative approach. 

So what’s the best way to deal with this kind of people at work?

Understand the psychology

They are pathologically pessimistic in their approach. So trying to be a comfort factor or even helping them out to come out of a negative situation will not ease your workability with him/her. It will further impact you adversely, and soon you will get sucked into the frenzied negative world of theirs. If you cannot ignore, just try and keep your mind engage in something else – be it your other work projects, happy colleagues, appreciation at work, vacation, girlfriend/boyfriend, upcoming sale, anything that makes you happy. 

Speak directly to him/her

If you are that kind of an employee who speaks his/her mind, then talk directly to that person. However, it is essential to be assertive and not aggressive. You don’t want to create disharmony at work because of you, and nobody wants another negative person in the team. Tell him/her how it affects team morale, and because you think he is more than just a negative person, it is imperative for him/her to understand that. May be a clear conversation is what can make a difference. 

Try having positive colleagues around you

Having positivity around you will help you handle a cynic like Ketan. If there are pessimistic people, there are definitely positive persons at work. The ratio of encouraging workers will always be higher – so if you are having problems coping with the cynic, then hang in the group of optimistic, happy people who would help you snap out of your negativity if you happen to feel that. And whenever Ketan comes up with his cynicism, you know you have your cheerful gang to fall back on. 

Smile consciously when you are with the cynic

 There will be times you cannot ignore the person, how hard you try. Try and switch topics, if you can. Give curt replies like – ‘Is it?’, ‘Okay’, ‘Really’, ‘I see’. An intelligent person will get the cue and stop when he/she will know you are not reciprocating the negative thoughts. And even when the curt replies seem to be not working, just smile consciously. The smile will have two impacts – one it will divert your mind from the pessimistic conversation, and two the person will keep on wondering about the smile. The success of a cynic is to make you believe what he thinks is wrong. So don’t get into that loop.

If nothing works, disconnect

You did your bit. Spoke to the manager about the person, had a heart-to-heart chat with the concerned person about his/her negativity, hung out with positive people, and did what you could. But it didn’t work. Try disengaging. Disconnect from them – show in your attitude that you are not interested to talk to him/her except for work. Keep it professional and restrict your conversation with just a courtesy of ‘hello’ and ‘hi’.

At work, it is essential to have supportive co-workers for everyone to be successful. There might be glitches but personal success will depend on how you deliver even with such challenges. In case you have dealt with such cynics at workplace, do let us know about your tactics.

Topics: Culture, Employee Relations

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