Have you ever had to work with someone ridiculously negative?! I have. And ugh, is it the pits. From the consistent sound of their complaints to the ‘sighs’ that you have to listen to on a daily basis (can you tell I’m drawing from personal experience?!) – I personally have really struggled to work with people less than positive. Working with someone who is negative sucks, but in this post, we’re going to talk about how you can deal with someone negative at work.
Especially if you take on any sort of challenging job (which I applaud you for!), it’s hard to have other people point out the obvious – that the job is challenging – and constantly! I like to work through something hard with positivity. And in full transparency, I feel like negativity was one of the least expected aspects of office culture that I struggled with in my twenties. Maybe because it happened so much more than I expected.
TBH, this is something I’ve really struggled with. There have been points in previous jobs where I’ve almost quit because I felt so down in the dumps due to the negative moods of coworkers around me. Every morning I would wake up happy as a clam, and then get into work, and all of a sudden see the world in gray! It was the kind of thing where everything we did at work (because I worked in a team environment) was this big, dramatic, negative situation – they gossiped – and it just wasn’t inherently me. But somehow, I latched onto like a leach, I felt like the people wouldn’t like me if I participated, so I participated – and became miserable as a result. Aren’t negative colleagues just the worst?!
I would come home in tears every day because I was taking on so much of the stress of colleagues around me. It took me so long to understand that I was naturally feeling this negative, but seeing things through the lens of those around me. And as much as you might try and avoid negative people in your life (like, negative friends!), you can’t always choose with you work with. What’s a girl to do?!
Ok so if you can’t choose who you work with, and you have to work (because well, bills) – how can you deal with someone negative at work!? I’ve come up with 8 tips today. Have you ever had to effectively deal with someone negative at work? Comment below!
8 Ways to Effectively Deal with Someone Negative at Work
Realize That Their Problems Are Not Your Own
One of the hardest things for me to understand in dealing with negative people at work is that their negativity is not your problem. There, I said it! And yes, it may sound unsympathetic AF – but it’s also true.
You have to remember that when someone is painfully negative, they are actually dealing with their own stuff – whatever it is – that’s causing them to be so negative. Their problems and reasons for being negative are probably so much bigger than you or I could ever imagine!
It became easier for me to not loathe the negative people around me to approach them with empathy – their little remarks, and seeming ability to bring everyone around them down – probably actually feels that way to them.
Subtly Point Out Your Colleagues Negativity
I like to find subtle ways to point out negativity – or really focus on the positive to someone else’s negativity. I literally try not to let other people be negative around me, by showing them that I will respond positivity to their negatively- and how annoying is that?!
Another way to do this, is to respond with things like, “I get that that’s hard, but I really want to approach this with positivity” – point OUT that they are being negative! That will probably show other people that you don’t love how they are approaching things.
I have dealt with a situation where I’ve pointed this out and the person says, “I am being positive, I just don’t like this!” (when they were literally being the most negative!!) – and in that case, you just have to ignore – ignore – ignore.
Resist Office Drama
One of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with was to resist office drama. I was in a situation once where I felt like everyone in my office constantly talked sh*t, BUT, I didn’t want to be negative with everyone. In turn, I didn’t end up being close friends with being the office, but the hardest part was honestly resisting the urge.
I wanted so badly to be friendly with the people in my office, I could either choose to be negative and continue to make my life miserable, OR, to resist the office drama and keep my mental health stable. This really helped me effectively deal with negative people at work.
Surround Yourself with Positive Co-Workers
Where ever you can – try and find positivity within your work. For me, it’s finding a positive co-worker that can help take a toxic work environment more positive. Your work environment is so important, it’s crucial that you’re able to enjoy that 8 hours a day!!!
At my work, we can eat lunch with whoever wants – so I personally try to find a few friends – even on different teams who can bring my spirit up if I’m ever down. It was the only way I could deal with negative people at work.
Don’t Dwell On Their Negativity In Your Spare Time
Ok, so when I entered a toxic work environment at one point in my career – it’s all I could think about. I LOVE work, how could I have gotten myself in this situation? How will I get out of it? Will it get better? Why are these people around me so negative…and cranky?! Is this worth my spare time, or my career?
I spent weeks, no months, dwelling on my crappy situation. Which only made the situation even crappier when I was in it.
BUT, I also let it take over my life. I was reading articles like this, spending all my spare time hating and dwelling on the toxic and negative work environment I was finding myself in. Let me tell you from experience, it doesn’t help. It doesn’t help to think about and obsess over the miserable situation you are in (I think this goes for any situation).
The only thing that helped was these tips, staying positive, reminding myself that this isn’t forever – simply a moment in time. This is actually the best way to deal with a negative co-worker (effectively)!!!
Find Some Separation at Work from The Negativity
As I mentioned, during the times I’ve found myself in a toxic and negative work environment – I had to find some separation between work and life. I was constantly obsessing over my negative co-workers, and it took a lot of work (and a vacation) to pull myself out of that.
One of the best things I did for myself was to find a hobby (and extracurricular you could say!) – to find meaning in my day to day.
Set Reminders to Stay Your Positive, Happy Self
There’s probably an app or something for this, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to FIND YOUR OWN HAPPINESS if you are dealing with a negative co-worker.
Stay your positive happy self, no matter who is surrounding you at work! Toxic co-workers are probably always going to be around, and if you’ve been able to go this long without a horrible colleague – consider yourself lucky.
For me, it was always helpful to find reminders to stay positive. Whether it was little sticky notes or reminders in my phone – give yourself friendly reminders that it’s normal to be unhappy when you’re dealing with a negative coworker, but it’s not impossible to handle. I’m sure you’ve handled much worse in the past!!!
Start a Gratitude Journal
If you’re going to do anything on this list, try this one! I started keeping a gratitude journal every day – where I write down the little things I’m grateful for – and it really helped me deal with negative coworkers. As you’ve probably gathered from this article, trying to find small bouts of positivity – within a toxic colleague and work environment, is really crucial to your future happiness.
Most mornings I wake up and write down a few things in my gratitude journal (which tbh is just a note in my phone) and it puts me in a positive mood for the rest of the day, so when I have to deal with someone negative at work – it becomes a little bit easier.
Those are the eight ways you can start dealing with negative people at work more effectively. What have your experiences been with dealing with negative people at work!? Comment below!