Discouraging Negativity in the Workplace

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Negativity can be a major issue in the workplace and, if left unchecked, result in fiscal consequences. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that negativity costs businesses $3 billion a year due to its harmful effects. Keeping up morale within an organization is critical for maintaining productivity and employee satisfaction. As a leader, preventing negativity through recognizing early warning signs is not only a major responsibility, but also the best method of handling it. Fortunately, there are ways to combat workplace negativity, such as leading by example and actively working to replace it with a culture of positivity.

Negativity is Harmful

No matter what the vehicle it uses, negativity is damaging to the workplace. It may be found in gossip, attitude, general communication, and even warp a business’s outlook. Unless a leader quickly and directly addresses the situation, the consequences will tangibly and intangibly affect the business. For instance, negativity can lead to distrust within a team, a decrease in employee engagement, or even liability issues if it devolves into harassment. Negativity in the workplace saps energy and diverts attention from productivity and performance, and because of this, leaders need to be proactive in maintaining a culture of positivity.

Resolving Conflicts and Addressing Gossip

Gossip can be common area of communication for negativity to form. Spending large amounts of time with the same people, not to mention constantly working with or for them, can result in negative gossip. Gossip happens between employees in smaller groups, making it harder to catch or be aware of. Leaders must be vigilant and keep their ears open to recognize negative gossip and work to resolve it quickly.

To begin, leaders should communicate directly with the key perpetrators. Help them understand the present impact of their behavior as well as the future consequences if it continues. When trying to stem negativity and gossip, don’t do it at an all employee level. Mass emails and scolding everyone during large meetings does not address the specific employees involved and can negatively affect the office atmosphere.

Positive Language is Important

Managers and employees can express positive language by sharing success stories, acknowledging company achievements and applauding coworker’s successes. Starting and encouraging positive conversations can replace negative gossip in the workplace, therefore improving morale and reducing turnover. Staying active and engaged will also promote a healthy work environment and allow leaders to praise individual and group achievements and lead by example.

Leading by Example

Leaders must model the behavior they want to see. Negativity can be contagious and if a change in attitude is the goal, it starts with being the example for others to follow. Changing a habit isn’t easy, especially a bad one. Evolution of the workplace might take changing one employee’s mind at a time, which requires patience and consistency. Leading by example includes showing your team how to communicate and interact with others. Treating others with fairness and equality will hold everyone to the same standard and avoid feelings of inferiority.

Empower Employees to Discourage Negativity

Giving employees something to attain, applauding their achievements, and offering more control and freedom in their job can combat negativity issues in the workplace. Providing opportunities to express opinions about policies and procedures will engage employees and increase cohesiveness throughout the team. Options to grow and develop increase work productivity as well as decreases employee turnover. Creating and maintaining a positive framework, mission, vision, and values keeps people focused instead of disengaged and uninspired.

Leaders who provide rewards and recognitions to their team will see an increase in morale and productivity. Negativity is harmful to the workplace and can be squashed through positive communication and individual recognition, benefitting everyone in the process.

Understanding human behavior is more than the basis of psychology – it is an essential component of virtually every business and organization. The USC online Master of Science in Applied Psychology prepares professionals to excel in the fields of consumer and organizational psychology.


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