Employment Expertise: How to Deal with Negative Coworkers

By West Michigan Works!


‘Tis the season for office parties and coffee breaks over holiday treats. While many enjoy these opportunities for more casual office interactions, it can also open the door to negative conversations and gossip.

According to a survey from Fierce, four out of five employees surveyed work, or have worked, with someone who is negative. Use these tips to keep the negativity to a minimum:

The Gossip
If you talk to someone who makes outrageous claims, you can politely challenge the information by asking “Is that a fact?” Or, “Did someone tell you?” These questions will make it clear that you only want to talk about factual things. Hopefully they’ll leave the gossip out of future conversations.

The “Venter”
This is the person who always needs to “vent” about something. Their conversations quickly turn from positive to negative. You can easily leave the conversation before things get out-of-hand by saying “I have to get back to my to-do list.” Or, “I need to finish a few things before the day’s over.”

The Negative Nancy
Sometimes you can’t avoid working with your negative co-workers. If a conversation starts to turn negative, you can quickly change the direction by saying “There’s too much negativity these days. Let’s focus on the positive.” While this person may not like the redirect, it will help alleviate the uncomfortable position of listening to their toxic conversation.

While you’re sharing a mug of hot chocolate at your company holiday party, make sure you do your part to shift negative conversations to positive ones. If the conversation swings back to negativity, stay but don’t contribute or politely excuse yourself.

Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit westmiworks.org or your local Service Center.