Quick Tips #9: Negative Work Environment
Question: I love my job, but my co-workers are really negative and the atmosphere in the office is depressive. This stresses me a lot. What should I do to cope with the situation?
That's a great question, because a lot of us have that, whether at home or at work and especially if it is not your own business, you can’t just go and tell people how to behave in those situations.
Maybe it's your peers or even your bosses that are very negative and as such the negative attitude makes the atmosphere feel really depressing and extremely stressful.
Here are some tips for trying to change your situation:
#1 Directly ask people to just focus on the work.
When your colleagues come and talk to you about their personal life in a negative way, you can actually ask them to just focus on the work.
If they talk to you about other people in the office or are trying to play people against one another, you can tell them for example: “I'm here to work. I appreciate you are having a hard time, but I actually want to focus on all of us being good workers. I’m pulling my weight and doing inspiring work, and I want to do my work really well. I'm not interested in office politics, so please don't talk to me about it again."
#2 Steer the conversation into positive direction.
If you don’t have the strength to be direct or if you think that your co-workers aren't going to respond well with a direct question, then simply start directing the conversation into positive direction by first acknowledging their negative feelings and then asking if anything positive has happened to them lately.
If not, you can tell them about all the positive things that has happened to you.
When you do that for some time, you will see that people actually stop whingeing to you, because you always turn the conversation into something positive. If they don't want to get out of that negative space, they will not be coming to you anymore.
#3 Help resolve the problem.
Another approach is to acknowledge their challenge and let them know that you can't recommend anything other than trying to get a good resolution on the situation.
You could say: “It’s clearly very difficult for you right now, so I'm just going to say you are better off trying to get this off your chest and really resolve this. I'm happy to help you in that.” That obviously requires that you are happy to resolve the situation with them.
Remember: Leave the stress in the office. When you leave and close the door, visualise leaving all that negativity there, so that you don't bring it home with you!
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