Dealing with workplace negativity is a subject that comes up often in my blog, and last year, I talked about how negative people often use fairly predictable tactics to create a destructive work environment. Stalling, defensiveness and disrespectfulness are just three ways. Ranting is a fourth. Think about it: from a negative person’s perspective, a fit of emotion is a good way to regain the attention and control of a situation. By crying or ranting, the person can distract you from holding him accountable or from giving her some critical feedback, which may or may not be negative. Getting past this tactic is easy though. Allow the person to regain composure by taking a short break in the conversation or by excusing yourself to allow some privacy. If necessary, pass the person a Kleenex and wait. Sometimes, you may choose to get up and walk away. If you do that, say “Let’s take five minutes, and then you and I can regroup and continue this conversation.” But don’t wait too long – it is important to resume the conversation as soon as you can. You want to communicate clearly to the person that the emotional display will not be effective in getting him “off the hook.” Once the person realizes that the outbursts aren’t paying-off, s/he will abandon them.
So how have you handled a negative person who uses ranting as a way to deflect the real issue? Would love to hear your approach … please share by clicking on Comments below.