Negativity in the workplace can be a source of burnout and attrition if not handled by leaders, who need to check if they could be the source of gossip or even “toxic positivity” that sweeps problems under the rug, writes Britney Cole. “You can flip this dynamic on its head by asking people how they are doing, what problems they are facing, what’s their biggest challenge,” Cole writes.
This is one of my favorite quotes, most often attributed to Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning. It holds an answer to managing negativity in the workplace. But first, I want to be clear about negative thoughts and emotions.
It’s okay to feel anger, worry, and sadness. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to get upset. We all experience a spectrum of feelings throughout the day. It’s normal. Besides, the more we squash negative emotions, the more they appear. But we can learn how to respond when we want to hold onto those negative emotions.
The first step is to acknowledge that we all feel big feelings, then feel compassion for yourself when you have them and, eventually, for others when they do.
Recognize Negative Tendencies
We all have natural negative tendencies and thought patterns. So don’t beat yourself up—or at least try not to. Recognize these leanings and attempt to catch yourself before you go into your habitual swirl of doom. You know what that looks like.
You might be one of those who identify what’s wrong before you recognize what’s going well. Perhaps you like to vent—a lot. Or, if you are like me, you get defensive when you get feedback and see it as a criticism. These knee-jerk reactions can go completely unnoticed by us because they are ingrained habits and impulses—learned behaviors we acquired long before we were functioning adults.