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Readers Respond: Tips for Coping With Negative Coworkers

Responses: 29

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If you’ve ever worked, you’ve probably had negative coworkers. You know the kind. Negative coworkers sap your time and attention with their negative comments about the boss, the workplace, the company, and their work. Their lives are usually a negative mess, too – or they think they are. These coworkers exude negativity and you are forced into coping with their negativity daily. Have a thick skin that keeps negativity from affecting you? Do you have tips for coping with negative coworkers? Absolutely. Won’t you take a moment and share your favorite tips for coping with negative coworkers?

See also Coworkers From Hell. Find more Reader Responses to various questions.

Share Tips for Coping

Negativity at workplace

How about upper managment not creating a negative workplace to begin with. Big do nothing managers hiring their siblings into sweet high pay do nothing positions. Or How about bringing in 10 interns and paying them 40k a year to work 6 hours a day, and then work "remotely" from home 3 days a week. All the while telling the others that have worked for the company that they have reached their pay ceiling and will never get another raise. This negativity is brought on by the company. It is not any one person's fault, I feel. But it is very hard to work around and with many of these people without feeling negative. Times are tough and everyone needs a job these days. In my place of work if you have any college at all you're a superstar. If not,you may as well be an illegal alien cleaning a toilet somewhere. Please be sure and talk to hr about anything, except they could give a shit what you think. And the top, top managers are the same. Now please try to work hard. Be positive and smile often. At least you still have a job.
—Guest Nobody

coping with negative people

I only work with them on a professional level and that's it. I've told them that I don't care what anyone says about me at all. Bottom line they can kiss my tush. They interpreted this as "being too good for them". They talk about me behind my back, my boss feels the same as my coworkers she's hardly professional. I keep to myself and keep things moving
—Guest millie

Wording things

Always being told how you say it is wrong? And being told how to say it right. Even when they do it and you just say that's ok, I know and or understand what you meant.
—Guest cher

HAAHH! Is this negative people?

That would be heaven on earth! Complaining about a difficult life is not negativity, it is discouraged. Negative people, that I know, are people who disrespect, insult, and blame. They make life miserable to get something from you. They are perfect: manipulative, violent in gestures and words, they threaten, disapprove, reject, lie, betray, and steal from you. More, they abuse your trust in all means and then they have the best excuses in the world. Negative people are hypocrites who smile in your face and they try to destroy you behind. They're always ready to criticize you, devalue, ridicule, they are the perfect Nazi, no scruples, no compassion. They hate your color, your race, your religion, your tendencies or whatever, it's an element because it is not aligned on their own prejudices or personal values. They are the perfect enemy of everyone and you. They are "always right", if you try to show a different vision, they scream "war." They are jealous, hate you and and desire that you die.
—Guest

Negative or just fed up?

I am labeled as "negative" but I don't think it's my fault. The place sucks and I can't find anything positive to say! I really wish I could quit, but with a terminally ill child, I need the benefits! Been hearing for 9 years that things are going to change and it will get better. NOTHING has changed!
—Guest unbelieveable

Tips for coping with negative workers

I have a very negative man in my unit at work. I get to enjoy his company every workday while clocking in and out. Mentally, I've nick-named him "chicken little" because of his NEED to ruin everyone's day, with his doomsday rhetoric. Work, I've learned, is probably the only place he has to vent. His wife is boss at home. The funniest thing is that at meetings, where we're supposed to share info and suggestions, he is silent! My tip is to call the person's attitude out, say something like..."having a bad day"? It forces the complainer to recognize his behavior is unwelcome. Sadly, too many of us are in relationships where we have no "voice." Oppression fuels this sad type of attention-seeking. If nothing else, end the conversation with a hope that the problem resolves itself, and leave, don't wait for a response.
—Guest janet

Negative Coworkers

Mentally limit how much time you can spare to listen. Be sincere. If the person is gossiping or complaining about someone, ask if they can deliver the mail to the right address. People are angry at times because they've assumed they know all the facts. Encourage them to get the facts from the top person and not stew on half truths or heresay. Close the conversation with, "I hope you can get to the bottom of things," and excuse yourself so that you can get back to work.
—Guest Tillie

Negative Coworker

Hi, I currently am dealing with a negative worker, and most of the threads that I'm reading, some of them help me, and realize, most say, ignore it, or accept it, or maybe realize you are the negative one. I do not believe this. I love my job (career actually) and we all have those off days, but I honestly enjoy it. My career is in the labour force, but that's my choice, and a few of the comments that stood out were, maybe this person does not like to work, because he does bring other people into the equation constantly. Well, most of these people, are most or all of the guys we work with, so it only makes sense to me. He dislikes the job. I am in an authority position and I am considering confronting him because quite honestly, it brings me down too. I try to steer away from it, but it doesn't work.
—Guest Guest Thanks

"How would you feel if you were ignored"

Wow! back at ya Guest Anonymous with the subject title, "How would you feel if you were ignored?" It seems as if you've got it figured it out so what's left for the "awesome and likeable and perfect" (ALP) people to enlighten you with if you're already aware? Maybe YOU need to inform the ALP folks that you're a cups-always-half-empty-and-nothing-will-ever-work-because-it-just-never-does-Negative Nelly BEFORE they invest any time in developing a friendship with you. Why do some folks choose to make life harder than it needs to be? Some people enjoy being negative; maybe you're one of them. Just a thought.
—perfumecounterchick

Put up or shut up

Encourage that co-worker to channel their negative words/feelings into action: make suggestions to colleagues and superiors that will address what they dislike about the workplace; and if that fails, find another job. But remind them that it's selfish to subject their co-workers to their sourness.
—SmackGavel

Piece of the puzzle

Maybe sometimes... 10 - 15% just want to be destructive anywhere they are. But, after 35+years as a therapist, listening to the personal stories of others behind closed doors and helping them work things out, I think more than 85% have legitimate complaints and could add a valuable part of helping managers improve their places of work. Unfortunately, most are scapegoated and booted out of boardroom discussions.
—Guest Guest Dr.

Positivity... or Denial?

In my experience, people who are terrified of others who they have labeled "negative" are not positive people, but people who live in denial. Positive people couldnt care less who comes up to them, they'll listen to you complain for hours, they'll complain to you for hours, give advice, ask advice, lend an ear or a shoulder, then skip off whistling dixie. But people in denial live in terror of "negative" people because denial takes so much emotional energy to maintain. The topics that "negative" people bring up are the very topics those in denial must avoid. The more those topics are brought up, the more emotional energy drains from the denial construct. People in denial rationalize and externalize injustices and problems as exemplified by Glow Girl's "correction" scenario. I recommend evaluating yourself before branding anybody as "negative." By labelling people as "negative" and preaching avoidance, you are doing little more than whining.
—Guest dalia

Be a pillar

When confronted with a negative person, people need to be bigger than the negativity. I agree that it's not wise to go down that road with them, but one must have big shoulders and sometimes people are too sensitive. If you present yourself as a strong, stable individual, people around you will be influenced. Don't tell on them either because that will make you look weak to your managers, like, if you can't figure out how to deal with so and so, how are you going to cope when I'm not around.
—Guest jim

You're not a garbage pit. No dumping.

I have had to deal with a severely negative working partner for the past two years. It literally sucked me dry and sapped my enthusiasm for work until I became quite bitter and even grouchy. Coping techniques I found: • Listen once, then change the subject. A particular co-worker would constantly call me out to have a cigarette and bitch about his life, a project or a particular person. Instead of being drawn into the conversation, constantly change the subject. 'Lovely day, isn't it?' any time they vent to get the message across. • Tell them you are too busy. Say you have a lot of work to do and don't have time to talk just right now. • Headphones. • Surround yourself with positive people from other departments. If there aren't any, find a new job. • Above all, don't listen to them. After all they are looking for an ear to dump their crap on. Don't ignore or be nasty, but give them the clear message you will not entertain any draining conversations.
—Guest bp

Coping with Negativity

I once worked with another secretary who was, next to my father, the most negative, pessimistic person I'd ever known. I would lend a polite ear, within reason, when they needed to vent, but I refused to let their negative worldview color mine. With my coworker, I would also gently point out when she had the story wrong. ("Really? What I heard was that you need approval now to work overtime on a non-emergency basis, not that they're refusing to pay us for it...") In both cases, I think it was fear and perfectionism holding them back. They were both unhappy and wanted a change, but were so afraid of trying something new and failing (or messing up) that they ended up staying where they were. ("You made the bed; you have to lie in it now.") Me, I decided that if I made the bed and couldn't sleep in it, I'd take it apart, figure out where I went wrong, and fix it until I could. (Susan says: Bravo!)
—Guest Glow Girl

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Tips for Coping With Negative Coworkers

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