I Got It! #29 Negativity Harms Your Bottom Line!

If you think ignoring negative Nellie or negative Nathan will make them go away, think again! Many negative people don’t even realize they are negative and they can suck the life out of you.

While we are all negative sometimes, there are people who have made it their life’s work. If you are a manager you must confront this behaviour because negativity can cost your organization millions, if not billions, of dollars each year. It can lead to increased turnover, customer complaints, errors, accidents, and illness.

First, try to diagnose why this person is negative. Do they feel unheard? Was a change not explained to them? Are you asking much more than this person can achieve in the time given? Has negativity become their habit?

If you are a manager, give immediate feedback when you hear your employee making negative comments. Do it in private and use concrete examples. Address only behaviours you can pinpoint. Negativity is a performance issue, so handle it like any other behaviour you measure. Make sure your employee knows the consequences so you can measure changes that occur.

Whether you work or manage negative people, ask direct questions next time they begin to complain. Let them know that when they are negative, it distresses you. While you may not ask each of the questions, have a few ready.

  1. Is what you are saying true?
  2. Are you using exaggerated words? (horrible, terrible, always, never)
  3. Will your comment help our company?
  4. Will your comment help our customers?
  5. Would you say these comments to the person you are talking about? Let’s go find them so we can hear both sides.
  6. Can you tell me about something good that happened today?

For a co-worker, your questions may cause the negative person to rethink what they are saying and become a little more self-aware.  They may become uncomfortable and find someone else to listen to their complaints. Either way, you will not allow them poison your thinking.

If you manage this person, you will help them become more self-aware and let them know what acceptable standards of behaviour at your company are. One study says that 80% of negative people do not know they are negative because no one has ever confronted them before.

Ignoring negativity won’t make it go away and it can move like a virus and negatively impact you and your company.