Professional Development

Tips for avoiding negativity at work

Written by Michael Hoon

Even if you generally like your job, work is still work. Day after day of clocking in makes it easy to get bogged down with everything you don’t like. It certainly doesn’t help if your workplace is full of coworkers who make a habit of complaining.

That said, negativity never made anybody more successful or productive. It can even prove to be a toxic and destructive force that can really impact your performance and career.  Rather than joining the chorus of complainers, try to be the person who walks into the room and lights it up! Here’s how.

Stop bad thoughts before they ruin your day.

Learning to recognize negative thoughts when you first have them is the first step. As soon as you feel a complaint rise up, take a second. Pause. Resist the urge to let the annoyance wash over you and choose to move on to more productive things instead. Once you gain a little distance from your initial negativity, you’ll see what waste of time and energy it is.

Practice, in this case, makes perfect—it’s not easy to take that extra beat to shake off your annoyance. Once you get into the habit, however, ignoring it will become second nature.

Change the way you speak.

Do you find yourself using a lot of negatives in your speech? Maybe you tend to speak in absolutes: These lunch meetings are always awful. This guy’s work is never on time. Try easing up on those black-or-white sentiments, leaving room for hope of improvement. Don’t write off someone or something—assume there’s room for improvement and give people the benefit of the doubt. Everyone’s just trying to get through the day.

Take action.

If you’re all doom and gloom but are doing nothing to change your current situation, you don’t really have room to complain—at least not all the time. Take an active part in your life. Go talk to the person who’s annoying you. Go ahead and get that really annoying project finished so it is off your desk. Do something productive instead of simmering in your own mud.

Give up on reading minds.

Do you (mis)interpret everything people do or say in order to feel worse about it? If someone hasn’t responded to your networking request or Facebook message, do you automatically assume they don’t like you? Or if someone praises your work, is your first reaction that they’re just saying that to make you feel better? You shouldn’t take things so personally, and you definitely can’t read minds. So stop trying. You’re only causing yourself unnecessary pain.

Try on some new shoes.

If you only ever consider the world or any particular situation, from your perspective, then you might get stuck in certain negative thought patterns. If you’re angry or frustrated or annoyed try looking at the situation from a different angle. People act a certain way for a reason, and nailing down that reason can help you look at annoyances from a practical viewpoint. You might not find that you totally understand or forgive every person, but you will find that you waste much less of your day being grumpy about it.

Be nice.

If you are the kindest version of yourself (even when you are about to burst with grumpiness), good vibes will flow your way. First, treat yourself well—do nice things to brighten your day and change your outlook to something more positive. But also make sure to throw in a few random acts of kindness to people around you. It will make you feel better about the world and it will brighten someone else’s day. Everybody wins.

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About the author

Michael Hoon

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