Dealing with Negativity in the Workplace

Negativity in an employee can be a difficult matter to deal with; negative behavior is an obstruction to a thriving workplace, and therefore is an issue that immediately needs to be quelled. That being said, negativity isn’t always initially apparent, so how do you spot it? It is important to understand that negativity in the workplace is anything not forwardly productive.

Besides the obvious actions such as outwardly complaining or poor performance, negativity comes in many more passive forms including being late to work, leaving early, not wanting to contribute to the work of others, being silent in meetings, and others not wanting to work with them.

There are a few different things to take into consideration when meeting with a negative employee. The first thing to discover is where their negativity stems from; not all employees realize they are progressively being negative, and are quick to amend their behaviors when an authority figure points them out. Other employees, however, will seemingly be stuck in their negative mindset and need further action taken. In those instances, you may want to ask what purpose they feel their negativity serves, as well as why they seem so committed to their negative behaviors  If resolution does not seem easily achievable, you may need to take disciplinary action by establishing consequences. Be clear and concise with strong statements such as, “If what you do continues, then XYZ.”

The entire process of dealing with a negative employee doesn’t have to be unfavorable. When citing references of a person’s negative behavior, take the time to break down their actions individually. Instead of blaming the employee for their negativity, ask for feedback, and pose your critique of their actions as questions of what you could be doing differently to make them feel more positively about their work environment.


While dealing with negativity in the workplace can be annoying, try thinking of it as a gift— that it is a perfect opportunity to ask for feedback, and give you a reason to make needed change, that will likely have a beneficial impact on your company or office as a whole. Arden Executive Coaching | Dealing with Negativity in the Workplace