Sad cyber bullying victim being photographed by her colleagues at office

How to Face Negativity in the Workplace

In most workplaces, working with others can make you feel good, and like you are part of a team. In others, it feels like you are expected to go above and beyond to support others, while our own workload builds and productivity dwindles. While these expectations can make you feel like you are being taken for granted, a valuable professional skill is learning when to offer support, and when to push back against unreasonable requests or behaviours.

How to deal with negativity

Assess your role in the workplace. Are you in a leadership position, or is there the expectation that as someone lower down the food chain, you shouldn’t speak up about issues?

Regardless of the role you are in, it is quite normal to be at the receiving end of negativity.

Managers have to bear the responsibility of dealing with negative employees just as much as employees may occasionally encounter unreasonable or dismissive bosses.

No matter how much talent you bring to the table, there may still be people at your workplace who do not like you, your approach, or the way you work.

One of the best approaches is to understand the difference between constructive criticism and genuinely negative behaviours. Not everyone who is being negative is toxic, and often you can solve minor issues by openly discussing them with your colleague.

It is important to remember that while a positive attitude is important, you do not need to work with unrealistic expectations if you truly believe your workplace is a toxic environment. If you do feel this way, it may be time to look into recruitment opportunities and move on to a more uplifting environment.

If the behaviours you are dealing with are not constructive, and you plan on staying in your workplace then you must master the art of staying above the negativity, and knowing when your concerns should be escalated.

While bad behaviour should not be excused, there can sometimes be mitigating factors including workplace pressure, personal issues, or a misunderstanding which could be at the source of the negativity you are dealing with. By displaying empathy you may have the opportunity to identify when someone actually needs help.

The Golden Rule

“The Golden Rule” is simply the practice of treating others as you want to be treated.

This simple approach can assist you in rising above negativity, and reaching out to others, to help them in resolving the issues that they face.

Here are a few ways you can help others using this approach:

  • Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you may feel if faced with the problems that they have to deal with.
  • Remain objective. Curiously, in displaying empathy, you will also need an objective view in order to really help others. Strike a balance between these two perspectives and offer real assistance by staying level-headed.
  • Remind them that it’s okay not to be in control. No matter how much we want to be in control, sometimes it’s okay to let go of that mindset when we can’t change what we are going through. Make a point to explain this in a way that is helpful and not condescending.
  • Help them work through their issues. Sometimes, the best way to help is to let them figure out a resolution on their own with your support. Be a good listener – and as a result, a good colleague.
  • Tell them that they are not alone. It makes a world of difference when someone knows that they are not alone in this world. One of the best ways to help others is also the simplest: demonstrate and prove that you are there for them and they don’t have to deal with things on their own.

These are just a few of the fundamental building blocks of helping others. As you start adopting this approach in everyday life, both professional and personal, you will notice that you have many opportunities to help others in ways you never imagined.

If you want to adopt this way of helping others, or would like to seek help yourself, make sure to reach out to someone who can assist you in achieving these objectives.

Remember, helping others or seeking help yourself only makes you stronger. Don’t shy away from it.

If you or someone you know is having a tough time or has symptoms of depression or anxiety, you can contact BeyondBlue’s mental health professionals 24/7 on 1300 22 4636, or via web chat or email.


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