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Why Workplace Negativity Grows and 6 Solutions To Stomp It Out

7 common causes of workplace negativity, 6 solutions and a dash of emotional intelligence

Workplace negativity is people based but organizationally enabled. It is best resolved by working together to change a negative culture into a positive one.

Negativity Is Emotionally Rooted

Negativity stems from people’s emotions; fear, anger, sadness, jealousy and frustration chief among them. These emotions often lead to negative actions such as gossip, insubordination, sabotage, and performance issues.  Alleviating out negativity can be a daunting challenge but understanding some common causes can help.

7 Common Causes of Workplace Negativity

  1. Overwork and/or perception of an unfair distribution of workloads
  2. Company economic status and concerns over management’s leadership
  3. Job security and concerns for career progression
  4. Boredom and lack of challenging work
  5. Lack of recognition for individual contributions or concerns
  6. Systemic organizational problems including lack of communication and information, negative culture and poor working conditions.
  7. Problems with a particular person including leaders or employees
  8. As you can imagine these causes are your blueprints for addressing negativity.

6 Solutions for Addressing Workplace Negativity

1) Create a Positive Culture:

Regularly acknowledge employees concerns, work quality, contributions and futures. Publically and privately celebrate individual, team and organizational successes.

2) Build Trust By Communicating Information:

When people understand what is expected, how performance is measured and what is happening it is more difficult for misinformation, rumors and gossip to find a home.

3) Catch it early!

Provide ongoing opportunities to listen to employees and measure satisfaction. Look for patterns of negativity including increased absenteeism, complaints and a reduction in work performance.

4)  Identify Sources of Negativity:

Consider both organizational and personnel sources. You may need to change something your organization is doing, identify particular people creating the negativity or a combination of both.

5)  Acknowledge the Problem and Involve People In Solutions:

Ask for ideas and/or involving people in their implementation. Changing company culture and practices can take time and effort but can happen. Clarify the changes you need to make, communicate your plans, ask for feedback, make adjustments and be persistent

6) When People are the Problem, Focus on Negativity Management

Changing a pervasive attitude can be challenging. If a key source of negativity is a person direct intervention may be required. Take the time to determine what role the organization plays: consider if an individual is in the wrong role, overworked, unappreciated or unfairly compensated. Training in the development of emotional intelligence skills, including the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions may be needed. You may deliver this training on an individual basis or as part of your workplace development.

Give people the tools to walk away from negativity. Create and promote a message of positivity and connectivity in the workplace. Let people know that they can choose to walk away from negativity. Build a feeling of community by reminding people to approach one another from a positive place and that even when problems or disagreements arise they can focus on the fact that they are both working for the good of the organization and its customers. Identify people who model these characteristics and reward them for their positive, solution-focused attitude.

Negativity stems from emotions. If you begin to replace negative emotions with positive you can build a culture of positivity.