I have a strange situation with a someone who only sees the negative in every situation. I don’t want to say much more beyond that as I know they are a big fan of yours and I don’t want to risk our professional relationship by giving any more details than necessary. Instead, I will simply share that it is making my job very draining. Do you have any suggestions as to how to deal with these kinds of people?
Dear No Complaints:
I think every person reading this can relate to your email as we all know someone who equates negativity with realism or finds a thrill in making the company they keep miserable. I think the key is to recognize what is a real concern and what is someone attempting to gain something else out of their whining or nasty comments. Perhaps this person wants attention and feels this is the only way to get it, or maybe they think by being unimpressed by everything they will impress the boss and gain an opportunity. Perhaps this person is projecting something else in their lives. The important thing is not to engage it or take it personally. As a boss myself, I am constantly hearing the positive and negatives of situations and I have learned that allowing someone to share their grievances is important as people tend to respond positively to being heard. The question I always ask them is, “OK, what now?” This places them in a position of power over whatever is bothering them and also holds them accountable for their response to it. I tell my staff to embrace all feedback, positive and negative, but no one needs to sit around and listen to gripes all day. My advice is to stay positive and proactive yourself, focus on solutions and don’t allow yourself to get stuck on this person’s negativity the way they are stuck in it.
Readers, how do you deal with negative people? What’s your best tactic?