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How to Deal With Office Negativity

We all know that person— or people— in the office that seem to constantly complain about work. Don’t get me wrong, occasionally venting about a situation is perfectly normal as long as you stay respectful of your coworkers. However, a company culture with a constant negative attitude can make your professional life miserable and unproductive. In fact, according to Inc. Magazine, listening to complaining can actually negatively affect the neurons in your brain. Yikes! Here are some tips for dealing with coworkers who complain too much, staying away from office politics and staying professional in a whiny company culture.

One of the quickest ways to avoid negativity in the office is to avoid the coworkers who are the most negative. If the break room is a gripe-fest at 3:30 p.m., take your break at 3:00 p.m. instead. Also consider using your break times or lunch periods to do something good for yourself— like taking a walk instead of chatting with negative coworkers. Distancing yourself from these chatty situations also reduces your chances of getting caught up in office politics.

Although you can usually choose what to do on break periods, the rest of the work day may bring you into unavoidable contact with complainers. In these situations, you have two options. First, you can see what you can do to alleviate the complainer’s concern. Remember that you are a participant in company culture as well, and you can do your part to help ease the tensions between coworkers. For example, if a coworker is complaining about how another coworker chews too loudly, you can suggest that he or she wear headphones to make the sound less noticeable. Be careful to avoid office politics, here! Remember to offer suggestions that don’t “take a side.” Remain as professional and impartial as possible. Speaking of…

One of the worst problems with a negative company culture is that you can be implicated in the office politics just by listening to someone complain. If you are unable to help solve the complainer’s problem, do your best to change the subject or leave the situation. Direct your coworker back to more professional topics (like you know, work), or make an excuse to end the conversation (a meeting, a deadline, etc.). By refusing to participate in a negative company culture, you not only avoid the nasty cycle of office politics, but you also gain a reputation for being professional.

Lastly, although talking to your manager might “stir the pot” in terms of office politics, it can be a useful last resort. If you feel that the company culture is affecting your performance, or the performance of the company, you could schedule a private meeting to discuss the issue. Your manager should be discreet about your comments, and perhaps be better able to encourage professionalism in the office.

How do you deal with office negativity? Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Bradley H

Kristin Anderson

Kristin has a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys long walks, kitchen adventures, and making puns.