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Managing Negativity
October 29, 2019
Collaboration promises disagreements, negotiation, and compromise, as well as new understandings, warm intimacy, and shared pride.
-Ann Pelo

“Every center seems to have at least one person who has a tendency toward negativism,” writes Linda Riepe in her article, “Understanding and Managing Negativity in the Workplace,” (part of the Exchange Essentials article collection, Dealing with Difficult People). “You know the type,” Riepe explains, “the person who creates and fuels the grapevine, complains about other staff not doing their share, and manages to pull others into the workplace black hole of despair.

In addition to up-front whining and complaining, this person is often the source of unsettling rumors. A few words out of context, a faulty perception of an encounter, or a perceived personal slight catapults them into action. Sadly, the fallout from these individuals raises the stress level of other staff, reduces productivity, and places roadblocks in the path of problem-solving efforts.”

In her article, Riepe shares a number of techniques for counter-acting this negativity. These ideas are very much in line with the thinking in an article by Susan M. Heathfield on the website balancecareers.com. Here are a few of the tips Heathfield shares:

  • Treat your employees as if they are trustworthy and worthy of your respect—because they are. Start from a position of trust when you hire a new employee. Verify their performance, truthfulness, and contribution over time to confirm your original position. Do not start from a position of believing that people must earn your trust. That positioning ensures that negativity will take over in your workplace…

  • Do not create rules for all employees when just a few people are violating the norms. You want to minimize the number of rules directing the behavior of adult people at work. Treat people as adults and they will usually live up to your expectations, and their own expectations.

  • Help people feel included—each person wants to have the same information as quickly as everyone else. Provide the context for decisions, and communicate effectively and constantly. You cannot over-communicate if your desire is to reduce negativity and gain the confidence and support from your team.”

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