Negativity Invades Work Environments

Negativity Invades Work Environments

When you walked into the office this morning was the general climate a positive or negative one?  It seems that when I speak with my friends and former co-workers that their work environments are increasingly toxic with negativity. Who is responsible for this onslaught of emotional crud?  Is it the leaders in the organization, the employees, both, or nobody?

It is easy to create and support a negative work environment. Have you ever noticed that a positive work environment can be destroyed with negativity in less than 5 seconds?

Picture a recent meeting that you attended at work. In general most of the meeting attendees were probably in an okay mood chatting about this and that and then walked in ‘Negative Nelly.’ Every workplace has a “Negative Nelly or Ned.’ ‘Negative Nelly’ has a demeanor that exudes negativity from her body language to the expression on her face.  She enters the meeting and BAM! in less than 5 seconds the positive environment in the room has been replaced by a negative one filled with tension, apprehension, fear, dislike, anger, and frustration.  She never even spoke a word just her mere presence filled the environment with her negativity.  Every meeting she attends she deliberately sabotages the meeting by making snide comments, focusing in on the gloom and doom scenarios, and not adding value to the meeting.

Now as a meeting attendee you have some options; 1) Ignore ‘Negative Nelly’ and the behavior that she is portraying 2) Pull ‘Negative Nelly’ off to the side and share with her your concerns about her behavior and negative attitude 3) Leave the meeting or 4) Participate in the meeting by displaying a positive attitude and behavior and pull the environment back from a negative one to a positive one focusing on the task at hand.

You have a choice every day at work on how you show up.

How do you show up for your meetings? What behavior and attitude have you chosen for the day? What is your motivation to support a positive or negative work environment? These are just some things to consider as you go about your work  this week. You may be surprised to look into the mirror and see the beginning glimpses of a ‘Negative Nelly or Ned’ staring right back at you. If you do, what are you going to do about it?


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  1. sherfelad

    I agree. If we don’t speak up and bottle things up… we all know how it is going to end. One thing, if all else fails, we should make sure the negative person does not stay in the team… Letting people go early enough before they can ruin everybody else’s work environment is a critical skill… A manager should be very clear that there is no place for negative people on the team…

    • stonesk

      Thank you for the comment!

      I would agree that it is a critical skill for a manager to be able to address behavioral issues of their employees. It is sometimes the tough conversations that can lead to a resolution or progress down the path of exiting the organization. But neither can happen until communication is initiated by either the manager or the employee.


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