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Controlling negativity in the workplace

Negativity has a huge impact on your employees in the workplace.  The attention to negativity has increased in recent years due to the growth of hostility, workplace violence, bullying, aggression, abuse, etc.  If you have an attitude in your staff of “Things will never change around here,” you have a problem with negativity.  It is more contagious than enthusiasm.  Steps should be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative influences.

There are ways to remove negativity from your workplace.

1.  Stop blaming others — Don’t point the finger of blame on other people.  Start learning from the difficult situations, and don’t let it suck you into the black hole.  It will drain your energy and sabotage productivity and performance.

2.  Take ownership —  Instead of complaining about a problem do something about it.  If you are the leader of the team it is your job to set the example.  Build employee empowerment into your business.  Leaders have to let go and provide autonomy.  By placing the tools into people’s hands it will effect change in the things that bother them the most.  The  empowerment being built into your organization’s culture will result in individuals’ innovation and positive change in the business.

3.  Have fun at work —  Build opportunities for fun into the workplace.  You can sponsor many activities inexpensively that will integrate play within work and foster healthy, working relationships.  It will build cooperation and trust among colleagues.

4.  Commit to removing negative people —  The root of the problems are people who don’t offer any solutions.  They see the glass half empty whereas positive people see the glass half full.  Negative people focus on the problem whereas positive people focus on the solution.  Their attitudes are poisonous to any environment which necessitates a strategy to deal with them and move them out of the company.  Bite the bullet and have a plan for an exit strategy.  Unfortunately, training doesn’t usually work to turn around negativity.

5.  Provide complete transparency —  When people feel like they don’t know what is going on and that they are being left out of the loop it will lead to dysfunction and a disengaged workforce.  As a leader in the company providing true transparency will diffuse early seeds of negativity.  Provide more open communication channels to better foster the understanding of the company’s issues.  Communicate, communicate and communicate more.

6.  Start learning from mistakes —  When something goes wrong, first take a look at what you could have done differently.  Analyze the situation and in most cases you will discover there is something you can do differently or better the next time.  Learn from your mistakes, adapt and grow.

Stopping and eliminating negativity in the workplace can happen through planned and frequent communications with employees.  Some of the ways negativity manifests itself include low productivity, high turnover, poor performance and strained relationships with coworkers and supervisors.  The basis or cause for employees’ attitudes can be worry about job security, ineffective leadership, demanding workloads and schedules.  Paying attention to employees’ motivators can be the basis for turning things around into a positive work environment. It is worth the effort.  The only difference between “bitter” and “better” is the letter “I”.  Take it out and you can begin moving your organization away from negative thoughts and energies toward a positive fueling of your team and company toward success.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.