We all know the feeling. That tightening of the stomach. That leadening of the steps as we walk toward the car in the morning. The slumping of the shoulders as we enter the door, bringing our minds back to high school bullies.
Working with someone who is aggressively negative can sap your productivity and interrupt your workday. Moreover, it can affect your general life satisfaction. After all, work is more than just a place to get a paycheck. It’s also where you spend most of your waking hours.
Work might not necessarily be fun (most of the time), but it should at least be as free as possible from influences that are actively negative.
Here are four steps to deal with a co-worker with a negative attitude:
1. Don’t Escalate
When someone is giving off a negative vibe, it’s tempting to snap back at them. It can be satisfying to tell someone off. However, it rarely improves the situation. Stay calm and try to come up with a positive solution to the problem.
2. Try Talking to Them Directly
A lot of times, people don’t realize they are having a negative influence. Maybe they are having tough times at home. Maybe they are just trying (and failing) to be funny. Either way, sometimes a private, courteous and respectful conversation is enough to alter their behavior.
3. Avoid Them as Much as Possible
On the other hand, some people are just jerks. For those few, conversation isn’t likely to get anywhere. If that’s the case, the best solution might be to avoid them outright. Move your workstation, change project teams. This might seem unfair (why should you have to change when they are the ones being rude?), but it might be the best fix for you long term.
4. Complain to Management or HR
If all else fails, there’s always the option of getting company officials involved. This isn’t an appealing option for a lot of reasons, but if the situation is untenable and all your efforts have failed to resolve the issue, it might represent your best option. After all, the company has as much invested in a positive, efficient workplace as you do.
Finding a company with the right people and the right culture is key to a satisfying and successful work life. As noted above, a job is more than just a way to earn money. It’s a big part of your life. So, use every tool you can to find the best environment for you.