Have you ever been around someone at work who was, well, a real Negative Nelly, Debbie Downer or Bummer Bob? Even worse, are you that person? Maybe this person is constantly speaking poorly of another person? Or perhaps this person struggles to see the good? They always say things like, “the weather is horrible”, “that client is a real pain in the butt”, “the traffic in was terrible”, or “I’m so sick I think I’m dying”. We could go on and on, but honestly, we’d rather not.
Besides being annoying to listen to, the Negative Nelly in your company could be poisoning your corporate culture by spreading their negativity to other employees like a bad virus in flu season. Trying to shut them down, shut them up or ignore them only adds to the toxicity and now you are part of the problem.
Unfortunately, it’s become an all-too-common phenomenon in our culture. Complaining is not only an acceptable form of communication, but it is a successful way of getting attention. We unknowingly reward the “victim mentality” by paying attention, giving sympathy and creating reinforcement that only invites more complaining.
So, what do we do with the Negative Nelly? Do we run them over in the parking lot with our car? Heck no, if you didn’t kill them, they would only complain more about your driving skills. Do we push them out of the company? Nice try, but as fast as they leave another one will come in to replace them. Instead, we should try to get them to focus on the good things around them every day. Cold outside? Rather than complaining, get them to be thankful they have a warm home and a vehicle with a good heater. Rude customer? They should be thankful that they have customers to keep them in a job.
Challenge them to find at least one thing every day that is a positive. A flower, the sunshine, or something as simple as waking up in the morning. Who knows, maybe they’ll turn into a Positive Pete or an Optimistic Olivia.