We’ve all seen it. That negative presence in the workplace that literally sucks the life out of an organization as it moves its way from host to host, slowly infecting everyone in the office. You see it coming and try to avoid the “sickness,” but at times to no avail.

Yet, as with many illnesses, there is a cure; the sooner you start taking it the more quickly you will start to see results. The first step is to recognize that negativity is indeed infecting your workspace. You and others are starting to dread entering the office doors. However, before it takes on its full force, you can use the Influence Styles to help others recognize when negativity is taking control and adjust their attitude to focus on a more positive outlook.

Often, the source of the disparagement is another Matter such as a different project, an experience at home, a new boss, or an illness. These can all be underlining root causes of negativity, yet the individual acting pessimistically may be complaining about something entirely different, because that is where they have chosen to channel their frustrations. In this instance you can use Bridging to get to the root cause of the issue and not just address the associated symptoms. Start asking open ended questions and give the individual the opportunity to answer. By taking the time to truly listen to the other person, you may discover the actual source of your coworker’s frustration and properly address the issue.

Another way to address negativity in the workplace is to directly address the individual who is acting out. For this you can use Asserting. Tell your coworker that you appreciate the work they produce and their willingness to work with you. However, you do not appreciate the pessimistic attitude that they are presenting at work. Let them know that when they have an issue with something or someone, you want them to come to you with the concern and a recommended solution on how to resolve it. If they are willing to do this, you will support them when they implement their suggestion. If not you will not support them when they need you at the last minute in order to complete a project that was delayed due to their behavior.

Another good example is if there is a project that is causing a department a high level of stress, and as such everyone is on edge and negativity flows rampantly throughout the office. As an outside observer you recognize the source of the issue and have a possible remedy on how to address the situation. This is when you can use Persuading to give your coworker a suggestion on how to address the issue that is causing them discomfort and two or three reasons, which are tailored to them, as to why you are making that proposal. With the issue solved the tension in the department will likely decrease and slow or reverse the spread of negativity.


Lastly, you can support your coworkers through a difficult time by helping them envision a positive outcome for all of their hard work. Attracting gives individuals something to look forward to. They can ‘see’ the end goal and, just as negativity is infectious, excitement can be contagious as well. If you take the time to find the common ground with those around you, together you can create what the future will look like.