How to Work with a Negative Nancy

Have any hyper-critical, irritating or just-plain-negative coworkers on your team?

Then you know what a drag they can be.

Negative people can make you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them. They fuel conflict, destroy workplace morale, and their constant complaining can turn every work day into a nightmare.

If you’re forced to interact with a “Negative Nancy” on the job, what’s the best way to neutralize their toxic behaviors – and keep them from rubbing off on you? Below, PrideStaff shares practical advice to help you deal with someone who’s a real downer:

  • Mentally insulate yourself.
    You know it’s coming: whining about the weather; complaining about the workload; griping about a family situation. For a “Negative Nancy,” life is one big problem after another. Realize that this type of person doesn’t care about solutions; they just want someone to listen to them vent. If you expect this type of behavior, you can shield yourself from it so that the negativity doesn’t affect your mood.
  • Realize that you don’t have to solve their problems.
    Negative coworkers continually burden others with their complaints – but that doesn’t mean you need to fix everything for them. When they spout off, lend a friendly ear for as long as you’re comfortable. Provide advice or ideas if they request them. Beyond that, don’t burden yourself by assuming the role of therapist or career advisor.
  • Minimize your interactions.
    Keep your distance when you can. But if you’re forced to work alongside a negative person, try to isolate yourself mentally and emotionally from their toxic behaviors. Grab your ear buds and listen to music if that’s permissible, or take a quick walk on your break. Even a brief respite can improve your tolerance.
  • Counter negativity with positivity.
    Surround yourself with upbeat people to neutralize the negative impact a toxic coworker has on your attitude. Repeat positive thoughts throughout the day to counteract the negative things you hear. And don’t hesitate to be direct. Tell a “Negative Nancy” that you choose to handle tough situations with a positive attitude. If they know you won’t be a sponge for their negativity, they may direct it elsewhere.
  • Get help if you need it.
    If a coworker crosses a line and becomes verbally abusive or otherwise inappropriate, keep your cool. Walk away, consult your supervisor and go through the appropriate channels to file a complaint.

Working in a toxic culture?

If negativity is rampant in your workplace, it may be time for a change. Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities. We’ll help you find work in an environment where you’ll thrive.