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How to Combat Workplace Negativity, Starting With You

negative feelingsNegative feelings on the job are inevitable, just like any other area of our lives. Maybe you don’t feel that you can accomplish the task at hand, you’re frustrated by a customer, you don’t feel that the right choice was made by your superior, or you just don’t enjoy the project you’re working on. But when negative thoughts and attitudes linger, or you feel that your work environment is negative and influencing your day-to-day attitude on the job, it can become more of a problem than just the usual day-to-day challenges we can face at the office. That can be difficult since we spend a lot of time at work. Here are some tips to take charge and combat that negativity.

Identify the issue. Ask yourself the following questions: Why do you feel that there is negativity? Has the situation always been negative, or has something recently changed? Do you unknowingly contribute to the negative atmosphere by your body language and comments? This can help you get to the core of the issue. Perhaps things aren’t as negative as they seem. Maybe you just need to look at the situation in a different way.

Action Step: Once you have identified the issue, think of one positive change you can make this week to the situation, whether it’s suggesting a change to the project or just having a more optimistic attitude yourself.

Stay calm. If you find yourself thinking a negative thought or feeling a negative emotion, try to stop thinking the thought that is upsetting you. Try to relax and think of something calming. You can also try focusing your attention on something else. Try looking out the window, looking at a family photo, or focusing on your breathing. If you find you aren’t able to feel calm, try removing yourself from the negative situation temporarily. Excuse yourself and take a short walk, use the restroom, or do something else for a few minutes.

Action Step: Be pro-active. If you know that certain situations cause negativity at work, prepare for them beforehand. Decide what you can do to stay calm and how you can control your actions to encourage positivity from others as well.

Spend time with positive colleagues. Spend more time with people at work you admire. Look for coworkers who are doing new things, who are creative and inspiring. Use your time with them to come up with new ways to approach your tasks at work. Take time each week to have lunch with a friend outside of work as well. Make sure you have a blend of time inside and outside the office to mix things up. This can help you beat negativity and come back to the office re-energized.

Action Step: Remember that to have positive friends you should work on having a positive attitude as well. If not, your positive friends may not want to do things with you for very long.

Unearth what you are missing. If you are still struggling to stay positive, it may be because your job is not honoring your core values. Think about your career values and ask yourself if your current position is honoring them. Is there anything you could change to give them more importance at your workplace?

Action Step: Write down your career values. When you are feeling negative, take a look at them and see if any of your values are not being honored. Write down the reason why they are not being honored and decide what two things you can do in the next month to better honor your career values.

Finally, if after four to six months, you feel that your situation at work has not improved at all, that you can’t get your negativity or the negative situation under control, it may be time to look for a new job.