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Tag Archives: workplace negativity

What to do when a negative employee resorts to sabotage

Earlier this week, I brought up (once again) the oft-discussed subject of workplace negativity, specifically the various tactics that negative people use to create conflict and friction in the workplace.  Previously, I’ve discussed how defensiveness, stalling, disrespectfulness, ranting and gossip are common methods; but I promised that today I would discuss one final extreme tactic – sabotage.  Basically, sabotage is a desperate and final way for a negative person to try to regain power over a situation where he or she thinks they have lost control. Sabotage is usually used by someone who has tried a number of more subtle ways to get others to change a decision or direction of a program.  At this point, the saboteur is desperate or frightened about the future of the situation and is acting in a “last chance” frame of mind.  How do you get past this?  Continue reading

Workplace gossip creates a negative work environment

Spreading gossip is yet another tactic that negative people use to create a toxic workplace.  Keep in mind that negative people usually suffer from low self-esteem, so when the gossiper’s stories tells get strong reactions from others, and even better, begin to “get around”, s/he feels an increasing sense of importance.

At the end of the day though, this is just another approach to gain control and attention within a situation.  There are two different ways to deal effectively with gossip.  Continue reading

Deal firmly with negative employees who rant

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. Continue reading

Dealing with employee complaints – live audio event on November 21

Conflict and negativity in the workplace, if left unchecked, can lead to low team morale and decreased productivity. Even worse, it can shift into harassment, discrimination, or even violence. Which means, that as a leader, you can’t just hope that such issues will simply work themselves out or magically disappear. You have to take deliberate focused action to address the issue!

But do you know how to confidently and assertively address employee complaints and concerns in a manner that will get to the root of the problem and result in positive outcomes? If not, then this audio conference titled “No Whining Allowed – How to deal with employee complaints and concerns” is exactly what you need. In one fast-paced power hour, you will learn specific strategies for assessing and evaluating employee concerns, and tested tactics for dealing with complaints quickly, fairly and in a way that takes care of the situation long-term.

Click here to register now

Don’t wait! If you act by November 14, you can take advantage of early bird savings. Here’s just some of what you’ll learn:

  • Two very important reasons you shouldn’t ignore the problem (or even hope that it will go away)
  • Seven specific things you can do to effectively question, paraphrase and listen to get to the bottom of a concern or complaint
  • How to give your employees tools to become part of the solution (rather than part of the problem), and in the process manage circumstances before things become too hot to handle
  • The “big four” situations when it’s time to bring in the “big guns” in the form of professional help
  • Specific actions that you can take to avoid getting in legal or regulatory hot water later

Join me on November 21, 2012 at 11 AM MST. Early bird pricing in effect ONLY until tomorrow Wednesday November 14!

Click here to register, or for more information

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to dealing effectively with employee concerns and complaints?

Every workplace has at least the occasional disagreement or conflict , and sooner or later, every supervisor or manager is called upon to deal with negativity amongst team members.   If left unchecked, conflict and negativity will lead to low team morale and decreased productivity, and can even shift into harassment, discrimination, or at worst, violence.  Which means that you HAVE to take action NOW in order to prevent a worse situation later.

This is exactly the subject under discussion in my next live audio conference on November 21, 2012.  In “No Whining Allowed – How to deal with employee complaints and concerns”, I’ll be covering specific and practical information on how to confidently and assertively address employee complaints and conflicts in a manner that will get to the root of the issue and result in a positive outcomes.  I’ll be opening the lines for questions, so I want to know – as a manager or supervisor, what is your biggest challenge when it comes to dealing effectively with employee concerns and complaints? What one thing could I help you with so that you can address these issues before they turn into bigger crises? Go to to ask your question and I’ll answer as many as I can on November 21.

And while you’re at, be sure to download the free article – “Conquering the Negativity Toxin” – in which I lay out specific strategies to deal with negativity in the workplace. Just click on the link on the bottom left of the screen.

Don’t allow negative people to be disrespectful

Over the past few months, we’ve talked about how defensiveness and stalling are just two of the tactics used by negative people to create a toxic work environment.  Here’s a third – being disrespectful to both their peers and their managers.  And this one, particularly if you are at the receiving end, is the hardest to swallow.  But if you do happen to be at the short end of this stick, it is worth remembering that being disrespectful is actually just another way that negative people attempt to mask their own lack of self-esteem.  By making someone else look weak, the attacker believes the focus is deflected off himself and on to the receiver.  Put-downs are specific examples of disrespect.  They are small jabs for control. The negative person who uses put-downs may be trying to save face in an uncomfortable position or to regain some control if he’s feeling threatened.

So how should you handle it?  Continue reading

Negative people try to stall; don’t let them

Back in March, I blogged about defensiveness as one of the tactics that negative people use to create toxicity in the workplace.  Stalling is another tactic used by negative people.  Their objective in stalling is to attempt to change a decision or control a situation. They may not want the assignment or project and, by stalling, they hope that someone else will take over.  If they put off doing what you ask them to do long enough, perhaps you’ll ask someone else.  And the unfortunate truth is that many times, just to be able to get things done, we let them get away with it!

So how can you overcome this?  Persistence and tenacity.  Involve these people by listening, really listening, to them.  Ask probing questions and be relentless in your follow-up.  Find out what the real reason for the delay is.  Don’t give up, you may have to ask several rounds of questions before you get at the real reason.  Once you find out, provide assistance and offer to help them, but don’t let them off the hook.  Determination and doggedness is the only way to combat stalling.

What do you think?  Do negative people resort to stalling?  And how have you dealt with it?  Add your comments below please.

P.S. here are some links to previous blog posts that addressed ways to deal with workplace negativity.

Deal with defensiveness in negative people

I am repeatedly asked about strategies to combat negativity in the workplace.  And in the past I have offered several proven tools to resist or reduce workplace negativity (see below for links to past blog posts).  Today though, I want to focus more specifically on the people who are negative and the tactics they use to create a toxic work environment.  In reality, there are only a limited number of ploys that negative people use, and if you know what they are, you can be prepared to deal with them.  One of the tactics most commonly used by the Negative Nellies of the world is to become defensive.  It makes sense if you think about it: low self-esteem is a root cause of negativity, and so such a person will frequently take a defensive stance to “protect” himself from perceived attacks.  “Why is everyone always picking on me?” or “No one ever returns my phone calls” are common refrains you might hear. Continue reading

Overcome workplace negativity by challenging extreme language

The subject of workplace negativity and what to do about it comes up repeatedly in my practice.  The biggest problem with negativity is that it is contagious, which means that it usually starts with just one or two situations or people, but then, if left unchecked, rapidly spreads throughout the department or organization.  So leaders everywhere are constantly asking me what specific concrete things they can do to avoid negativity or at least limit it from spreading.  In previous blog posts, I have offered the following proven solutions:

Here’s another option: challenge extreme language.  This means that you must have the presence of mind to object when you hear your employees use extreme words such as always or never.  Challenge the person: ask what s/he meant by using the words always or never.  For example, if you hear your employee Rebecca say “There’s no point in offering feedback to other departments, it’s never listened to,” stop her and ask the following question.

“Rebecca, what do you mean when you say never?  The last time Amy and Peter from the team offered a suggestion to the Accounts Payable department, it was acted on and they changed their procedures.”

Or you could say, “I think never is a pretty strong word Rebecca.  When it was your idea to stagger our opening hours, I investigated that option thoroughly.”

My point is that negative people will often use extreme words in their conversations for emphasis and impact, because it generates sensationalism.  But as a leader, you can’t let this slide.  You have to challenge those extreme words, because if you don’t, there is a danger that incorrect beliefs will grow and expand, and before you know it, the myths will begin to take on the appearance of facts.  Negative people view the glass as half-empty instead of half-full.  It’s up to you to point out the half-full, instead of the half empty.  So challenge extreme language.

Have you challenged situations of extreme language in your workplace?  Why or why not?

Overcome workplace negativity by letting people talk

Workplace negativity continues to be an issue in many organizations; not a week goes by that a manager or supervisor doesn’t ask me for some ideas to combat the negativity toxin.  In the past, I’ve offered you a couple of ideas – feeding the grapevine and being inclusive when you communicate.   Here’s another.  Let people talk. Create forums for people to express their opinions about workplace policies and procedures. Provide timely responses to questions and concerns. When you let people discuss issues with each other you’ll find that you’ll nip small irritants in the bud, and negativity will decrease. For this to work though, when they talk, you have to listen.  Remember, sometimes people just want a sounding board, they want a place to be respectfully listened to.  Be visible, proactively schedule group discussions sessions or town hall meetings, and again provide responses to questions and concerns.

So what do you think?  Does this work, or is there a danger that it will turn into a “b*tch” session?