Two Tips to Help You Stop Once You Realize You Add to Office Negativity
You know that one person at work who is the epitome of office negativity?
That person who, as soon as they walk in, or as soon as you have to deal with them, there’s this black cloud of “What are they going to complain about now”?
It’s human nature to avoid that person. In doing so, we’re protecting ourselves...our emotions, our minds, even our physical body. Because dealing with an atmosphere that’s THAT NEGATIVE has an effect on all of it.
But...what if that person is you? What if your attitude is making everyone veer the other way when they see you in the hallway? What if people aren’t even approaching you to figure out how to solve a problem they know you can solve in a heartbeat...just because you’re so negative all the time?
If you’re even considering that it’s you, I’m giving you props right now. Seriously...I’m not even being snarky. You know why? Because it’s a very small percentage of the population who can actually SEE that they’re either contributing to - or the direct cause of - a problem. It’s even a smaller population who will then want to change it - someone told me once it’s 3%.
I don’t know how accurate that figure it, but even if it’s more than that, it’s still such a tiny percentage of the world.
So...GOOD FOR YOU...I’m excited that you want to make changes in your life.
If you’re new here, welcome!! I’m glad you found me and I hope we can connect soon! I would love if you checked out this other blog post of mine. I think you might like it. It actually might have something to do with the problem we’re discussing today.
If you don’t have time to read it now, I totally get it. Share it to Facebook or save it to Pinterest or even save the link to the home screen on your phone so you can check it out later..you know, after the kids go to bed and whatever’s on TV is boring as hell and you’re mindlessly scrolling...yeah...read it then...be mindFUL, not mindLESS.
A few months back, I was talking with a counterpart at work. We were in my office, so no one in the main open area could hear us. We were discussing our displeasure over a certain decision that had been made.
At this point, I don’t even remember what it was. But it had an effect on both of our departments and we were talking about it, not bringing anyone else in, and trying to figure out how we could get it changed or make it beneficial to our departments.
My boss walked past, and I can guarantee she heard less than five words of what we were saying, doubled back, looked at me and YELLED...and I mean YELLED.
“REIGN IT IN. YOU’RE THE REASON MORALE IS SO BAD.”
Now, the person I was talking to is someone whose opinion I value...she calls me out on my bullshit when needed...and she supports me when needed. She’s also not easily offended...working with me for more than a decade proves that much.
Quite honestly, I never really took much of what my boss said too seriously. I wanted to respect her, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But...that’s another story all together.
I was pretty pissed about that, though. I was the reason morale was bad?
If I was the reason morale was bad, how come everyone came to me instead of her when they needed to solve problems or ask questions? I mean...this was stuff that was in no way my “level”...it was hers…
So, this lead to a lot of introspection. And I even chose to change some of my habits. I did ask a few people, people I knew would be honest with me, whether or not I was the reason the office was so negative.
It was a vibe we all felt. And, from my experience, both personal and professional, if there’s a vibe being put out, the person putting it out usually doesn’t feel the vibe, let alone realize it’s them putting it out there.
The answer was a resounding no. I won’t go into the details about the rest of the conversations, but I was assured I wasn’t the cause.
But...this interaction with her still made me second guess everything I said, out loud and through body language.
So I started making conscious shifts. I actually started talking to people less in an effort to make sure I wasn’t putting out any negativity, which sort of back fired.
Are you the cause of the negative office vibe
These are just a few things that, in my experience, are indicators of whether or not you’re contributing to the negativity in the office.
If you’re not talking to people when you come in or when you leave, it’s not going to sit well...I can guarantee that. Everyone is going to be thinking “What’s her problem?” “Is she too good to talk to us?” “Are we too ‘below her’ for her to even say good morning?”
Are you all business? Or do you legitimately take an interest in your employees, co-workers, counterparts? Do you know anything about them...at all? If you’re not making an effort to know them, they’re not going to make an effort to help you when you need it.
Do you take a break from the “grind” and walk around and talk to people? Even sending a funny emoji via instant message to break up the day. Again, this goes back to people not feeling valued because they think you feel they’re just another headcount.
What about people going over your head to your boss to inform of a situation or voice a concern that you should have been the go-to on? They might be doing that for good reason.
Or people talking to anyone else, even multiple people, to figure something out, just so they don’t have to interact with you. Again, they might be doing that for good reason.
And the last one...everyone BUT you has a bad attitude...at least from your perspective.
I came across an old email...from about 15 years ago that was actually the inspiration for this blog post.
See, the newly ranked president of the company I was working for at the time had assigned his wife to be the “part time assistant” in the department I worked in. She had never worked...EVER...she went from college to wife/mom, so this was her first job.
We knew he was sending her to essentially spy on us. It sounds silly, but it’s exactly what she was doing.
We found emails of hers where she was ratting on all of us to him, setting us all up to get either demoted or fired. (Some took their demotions, most left before the firing happened).
Anyway, one email of hers said “Natalie has looks to kill today, she’s ruining the mood of the whole place”.
I wasn’t the only one with attitude, though. But I was the one she was reporting on that day.
Looking back, that may have been true...I was young, about 24 at the time, I knew my value, and I had some confidence in my abilities. She was undermining everything I said or did and I wasn’t having it.
That was also around the time my now ex-husband and I started having problems…so it was probably a bad morning on the home front as well, then for me to have to walk in and see the person who I knew was going to be the reason I wasn’t going to be working there much longer.
But...even though everyone else was just as miserable as I was with her there...I didn’t realize I was having such an effect on the office dynamic.
That’s the thing...when you have a big contribution to the crap atmosphere at work...you really don’t even know.
What do you do
If you’re worried that you may be adding to the office negativity, you’re actually one step ahead, because you’re aware of yourself.
1. Take a few minutes to reflect on the day and how you interacted with people.
In order to do this, you’ll need to take a step back. Ask yourself how someone else would have seen that interaction with Diane in AP. Were you sitting alone at lunch because there weren’t a lot of people in the lunchroom and that’s what everyone does anyway?
2. Make a plan to change.
Now, don’t go overboard being all Mary-Poppins on crack with people singing “Good Morning” when you walk in. But say a few good mornings, initiate a water cooler or coffee-pot conversation here or there, and do it with a smile. Maybe find a funny meme to share with a few people.
Make an effort to do a couple positive things each day. It will not only alleviate any tension or negativity that’s been looming, but it will improve your mood too.
Because when one person is happier in the office, other people in the office are happier too.
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Hey, I'm Natalie and I'm an author, a wife, and mom of two kids and two dogs.