Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Les Miserable! How to Deal with Negative People at Work

Negative, miserable people.  Ugh. They can make a job you love a JOB to love. Who are these people? where do they come from? Why are they on your job and in your life?

While we don't know everyone's story, suffering alongside them is not your job. I remember when I had been blessed to work at a great job in a career I had wanted badly. The people in my department were friendly, hard-working people who made going to my job everyday easy despite the low pay and long hours and hard work we all put in. We were grateful for our jobs and made sure we kept each others' spirits lifted. 

After I was hired, my boss hired a friend of a friend who needed a job badly. The employee used to run his own company and was used to being the boss for many years. But at our company he was powerless and had to take directions from people who much younger and more knowledgeable than him. He was miserable. He complained about our superiors, made snide remarks about our co-workers and called everyone stupid who was out of earshot. Soon, his misery spread like quick acting poison among our entire team. Even though the employee was becoming abusive, not one person on the team spoke up against him - except one. One of the original team members filed a complaint against this intolerable employee after going to the supervisor and then his boss first.

When the company realized how much production had gone down since he was hired, they investigated. Once more people began to speak up, the abusive employee was given a Final warning - meaning he or she had to clean up their act or be terminated. Since that time, the team has had a 100% turn-around. Not  everyday was complete sunshine with the employee but the negativity had come to a stop.

Now, the other people who did not come forward to complain about the negative employee weren't afraid, they just knew how to handle Negative People at work in a different way. Below are my rules for attempting to deal with Negative People and situations at work.

1)My first advice is to ignore them if you can. Unfortunately, a lot of employment depends on team work and miserable people love to work in team environments.  So my advice is if ignoring them doesn't work and you have to interface with one everyday. Learn to politely re-guide every angle of negativity they attempt to spew at you and others.

2) Do not join in on miserable  people gossip. It's second nature to not necessarily like everything our boss or co-workers do, but to continuously rag on it daily only illuminates the situation and makes it worse. And misery loves company. My second token of advice is, no matter how much you may agree with negative convo concerning your boss, refrain from it and if someone brings it to your desk or area, listen if you're forced to do so but make no comments or agree. After the person has their say, act busy or guide the conversation elsewhere. If asked your opinion, simply say you have none. And most of all keep in mind: If people talk about others to you, they are definitely talking about you as well.

3)Relax, relate, release. Negative people and situations at work can severely stress you out! Don't let it to the best of your ability. Now's the time to exercise, eat right and make the allowed 5 appointments with a counselor through your health plan or join a free one in your city. If you know of a bible study or young adult group where you can be emotionally and spiritually replenished, go there. Being able to vent and shake it off physically will arm you to deal with these negative peeps day in and day out.

4) If the negativity is disturbing your work, then it's time to speak up. No one has the right to create a negative environment or abuse you at work. Try to resolve the situation at your level first by confronting the person directly in a positive manner b y keeping the focus on you rather than them so the person will not feel attacked. For example: "John, when you do not turn in your work in a timely manner so that I may do my part before it is due, I feel frustrated. The team expects me to have it complete for our team meetings. Is there anything I can do to assist you in getting this done?" Or "John, I understand we both have frustrating situations here at work, but as a team player, I would like for us both to come to a compromise on how we can both work best together in a positive atmosphere."
Hopefully, you and your co-worker can try to resolve the situation between the both of you.However, the rare circumstance you find yourself unable to do so and the environment becomes intolerable, keep track of the events that occur and bring them to your immediate supervisor.If it is not resolved on that level or your supervisor recommends so, bring the issue to Human Resources to file a formal complaint.
Imust point out here that going to Human Resources is a lat resort. Please, do not go to Human resources to vent or talk about your frustrations or issues you may have outside the job. Keep in mind, Human Resources main job is to protect the company, NOT YOU. At times, H.R. will label people. You do not want to be known as a complainer who always has an issue,no matter how valid, with someone. In going to Human Resources, know that you must have solid, factual back-up, witnesses willing to speak on your behalf and most important, you must go through with filing the complaint.
Not all negative situations need to escalate to that level and sometimes you do have to remove yourself from a situation that is not right for you. Some people thrive in certain situations people might consider negative, others don't. When I have tried every avenue, including looking to myself for where I may be the contributing factor to a negative situation, to no avail, I take that as sign that  it may be time to move on. As long as you're not running away, there's nothing wrong with realizing you may no longer be a good fit or that a situation may not be right for you.
With that said I hope you've found something helpful in my post if you're currently going through this or can add some helpful hints for others below.
What are some negative situations you have gone through at your job? How did you handle/resolve the situation?

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