Negative Co-Workers And How To Handle Them

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THE OFFICE Negative Co-Workers And How To Handle Them

Published on September 17th, 2014 | by Joan Makai

In any organization, negative people always exist and we have to deal with them one way or the other. Whether you’re working in a multimillion corporation or a recently opened medium scale business in the city, you’ll find co-workers that exude negativity in everything they say or do that you just want them to disappear from your sight even for a moment. The sad fact, there’s no getting rid of them. Sort of murdering them – there’s no avoiding negative co-workers and unless you can magically transport them to Never Land, you need to find ways to deal with negative colleagues if you want to continue with your job. Here’s how:

Lend a listening ear but don’t fuel the fire.  There are co-workers that are just looking for a friendly ear to listen. Perhaps they have no one to talk to at home and they found that you’re the nearest table to share their whines to. If that’s the case, listen to their issues and give good advice when necessary but draw the line somewhere if the things they are saying involves your work. Don’t suggest things that could fuel their ire like “you should do this” or “that should not happen if…”

Don’t encourage negative conversation. Negative people love to complain for just about anything. They complain about their job, their boss, their clients, their desk, their lives and even their pets. The best thing to do is not to encourage negative conversation with them. Let them say their piece but don’t add opinions that encourage negativity. Reply with unenthusiastic nods or short phrases like “I see”, I’m not sure, or “It’s going to be okay” and then change the conversation to more positive topics.

Ward off negative colleagues by avoiding them. If your colleague keeps on saying negative things about your workplace or superiors without just cause, there is no reason to keep their company. Avoid co-workers that have nothing good to say and focus on those who are motivated to work for the benefit of the company.

Suggest that they talk to your superiors. Let your colleagues know that they can talk to your superiors to settle things out. If their problem is valid, the human resource department would be happy to resolve the issue so they can work more productively.

Know when to stop listening. If you were approached by a colleague that loves to ponder on the negative you should be wise enough to discern when to stop listening. Sometimes, negative co-workers are naturally negative and there’s no changing their attitudes easily. It’s up to you to put an end to their blabber.


Negative attitude in a workplace is toxic; it diffuses bad vibes that could affect productivity. Unfortunately, no workplace is perfect. Even if the management did their best to screen applicants, employee attitude is beyond their control. If you are satisfied with your company there is no reason to dwell on the negative. Let your co-workers think what they want to and just focus on your work.

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Joan Makai

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