Don’t Let Negative Nancy Bring Everyone Else Down Too

They’re unhelpful. Contrary.  And they always focus on problems.

But if you have a “Negative Nancy” or a “Donnie Downer” in your company, they can do more than just irritate coworkers and managers – they can damage your bottom line, too. According to this CCP Inc. study on workplace conflict, U.S. employees spend as much as 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict and other negativity in the workplace. This amounts to 385 million work hours per year, or approximately $359 billion in paid hours – wasted on things like personality clashes and pointless disputes.

Who has the time – or money – for that?

How to Neutralize Negativity – Before the Company Ship Sinks

The best way to neutralize a negative coworker is with a healthy dose of positivity. Here are five productive ways you and your employees can counteract downbeat, pessimistic or just-plain-depressing people in the workplace:

Address conflict more constructively.

Instead of trying to sweep disagreements under the proverbial carpet, try channeling them in a healthier way. Teach your team that conflict is not something to be feared or avoided. Encourage them to view disagreements differently by practicing empathy and focusing on developing solutions. And when the person gets on a roll, don’t just gloss over the dissenting opinion; invite them to explore it further. In doing so, you’ll model receptiveness and tolerance for your team – and you might learn something helpful in the process.

Be a duck.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes treating a Donnie Downer’s contrary remarks like “water off a duck’s back” is the best way to insulate yourself from the effects of their negativity. When you or your employees can’t escape the complaining, consider the source – and put up a mental shield before it ruins your mood.

Be proactively positive.

Front-load conversations with upbeat statements. Put a smile in your voice when you speak. Offer genuine compliments and heartfelt thanks. Share positive work stories in meetings, emails and other communication channels. Take steps every day to beat a negative employee to the punch, so the discord they try to create can’t take hold in your environment.

Have a meaningful, private conversation.

Sometimes, even Negative Nancies and Donny Downers have legitimate complaints or real problems which fuel their intolerable behavior. If this could be the case, schedule a private meeting to hear the individual out and see if you can uncover the underlying reasons they’re so miserable. Sometimes, just allowing someone to vent and then helping them work through an issue is all that’s needed to turn things around. But regardless of whether you find a solution, explain the impact their behavior has on the entire organization and document your discussion.

Hire more positive people.

If positivity, genuine concern and performance management don’t help, you may have to cut bad apples loose. Moving forward, make it a goal to release chronically negative employees and systematically replace them with optimistic, upbeat new hires. Look for individuals who can engage in healthy conflict with a respectful attitude and are positive even in tough circumstances.

Need to replace a Negative Nancy?

PrideStaff’s On Target process eliminates chance and inconsistency in the hiring process, to ensure candidates have the experience, job skills and personality traits to thrive in your organization. Contact your local PrideStaff office today to learn more.