5 Ways to Cope with Negativity in the Workplace


I woke up to a text message from my co-worker this morning:

“I feel like these days are a never ending marathon – and we are not moving.” When I asked what I could do to help he responded, “Not a thing it’s endemic in the culture, bad answer I know.”

If your work environment is anything like mine, your mornings might look a little like this:

“Good Morning, Sue,” you say with a smile. “What’s good about it?” she replies. This time, without a smile, you say, “Good Morning, Bob,” to which he replies, “Whatever.” On your way to your desk, you see Jim and Amy and walk by them with your head down. Overly chipper Myrtle stops by your desk to say hello. Your reply: “What’s good about it?”

As this scenario shows, bad moods are contagious. You can come into work with the best intentions, with the plan to be positive and happy throughout the day, only to be brought down by the effects of negative energy. You spend 40 hours a week at the office, you owe it to yourself to thrive in it, not just survive.

To prevent this negative energy from taking you over, you need to find some ways to cope. Here are 5 ways to cope with negativity in the workplace:

1. Stay Positive

Positivity is infectious. Smile. Be in a positive mood to counteract the negativity around you. Be the person who people ask, “Why are you in such a good mood?” Even if you aren’t yet. Fake it enough, and you wont be faking it anymore.

2. Don’t Participate

Even if it’s the “cool thing” to do, resist the urge to engage in negative conversations. We have all stood around in the break room complaining, usually about our boss, but what good does that do? Change the topic to something positive like, “Hey guys, I’m really excited about the X coming up, what about you?”

3. Don’t Take it Personally

Often people’s negativity is brought on by outside factors such as a difficult personal situation at home. Maybe you should ask the constantly negative person in your office how are they feeling. Let them answer and just listen. You’d be surprised how quickly someone might open up, and share the “real” reasons they are negative. Don’t delve too far, as it might open up more negativity, but be open to being the shoulder to cry on. Having empathy for others will make you feel better.

4. Find a Positivity Buddy

Make friends with a like-minded individual. Have lunch with them and share positive, happy, and exciting stories. You might find others join your table when they see you laughing and enjoying each others’ company.

5. Find a New Job

Sometimes your coworkers (or the work environment) aren’t a good fit for you. If you work in a consistently negative environment, and you are always battling it, maybe it’s time to look for a new job. Being the positive person that you are, you want the best for everyone. You will try to help others see the positive light, but not everyone wants to change. Changing jobs doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it means you love yourself. You can’t help everyone, but you can always help yourself.

Now that you know it’s OK to be the “always positive person,” go and be that person! It might be hard at first, but in the end it will make you feel better you, and you will be amazed at how wonderful life can be if you exude positive energy no matter where you are.


About the Author

IMG_1397Jonathan Blithe is birdwatcher, blogger, and nature enthusiast who recently moved to South Florida. He has been birdwatching for five years and enjoys capturing breathtaking moments with his camera. Through writing and getting lost in the great outdoors, he has rediscovered his creative side. You can follow his birdwatching and musings on his blog South Florida Birding and Nature.




Main photo: Hilary Chang

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