2. Breakdown the Negativity into Something Tangible
When you can identify elements of the employee’s negativity that may have some merit, at least from their perspective, you are able to put something tangible into the conversation.
Your focus is not on the fact that the person is being negative but on trying to find out what they are concerned about. Sometimes things really are challenging for the employee and sometimes what they say does have merit. By looking at smaller pieces of the employee’s concern you can find something tangible to work with.
An employee who is negative about the economy might really be experiencing some financial hardships, but you and the employee cannot fix the economy. Help the employee put a name to what they can address that is causing them personally to feel distress.
An employee who is negative about your workplace may have one real problem, that problem could be theirs, perhaps they lack skills to accomplish something or perhaps they are having problems with a co-worker.
As you know, once their negativity bias has kicked in it can lead the employee to see global problems in the workplace. Help the employee pinpoint core and tangible elements of their negativity and challenge their growing negativity bias by finding out what they think is working or going well.
3. Help Find solutions
Once the negative person sees you are listening and you have identified some tangible areas of concern you can move away from problems to begin to find solutions. Offer to brainstorm with the person to identify possible ways to alleviate their concerns.
When you find smaller concerns with some merit the solution phase can be addressed by bringing more people into the conversation. If the negativity stems from an employee’s personal challenges perhaps you can find resources in the community or through an employee assistance program to help them address their concerns.
If the problem seems to be tied to your business you may bring in others to help with brainstorming and applying solutions.
4. Prepare to Move On
Not all concerns have an immediate or short-term solution.
Once you have helped an employee identify a manageable element of their concerns and discussed some potential solutions let them know that it is important to focus on moving forward. Remember the negativity bias draws people towards the negative.
When you can help the employee focus on the possible you are able to cut into their negativity bias.
Stopping Negative Workplaces
One key to changing negative thoughts is to be able to really see them for what they are.
Negativity is an important element of survival but that does not mean you or your employees have to let negativity take over. Challenging negative thoughts, whether expressed out-loud or in your head, is a way to take the wind out of the negativity sails.
Remind yourself or our employee that negativity is there to help you find opportunities to avoid negative outcomes but it is important to challenge the reality of the concerns they feel, break them down and find solutions.
Be open to hearing what your employees have to say, even when how they are saying it is not easy to hear. Be prepared to demonstrate to your employees your openness to working with them to find solutions.
About the author
Tara Orchard is a coach, trainer, consultant and writer who applies her insights into people and Masters training in psychology to facilitate performance improvements, relationships and communication for people and businesses. She has worked with organizations to deliver clarity on culture and brand, develop their people and manage relationships with social network communities. Over the past 18 years she has consulted with 1000's of people who want to make effective transitions in their lives. Tara has a knack for hearing what people are thinking and helping them see what they need to see. She is the founder of her own career and social network coaching business, works with several other organizations as a coach and consultant and is about to complete her first book on the "psychology of effective social networking". Tara invites you to connect with her on LinkedIn .LinkedIn