Negative Nellie or Positive Pam? Dealing with Negative Attitudes on Your Team

Category: Motivation, Productivity
Posted by: Greg Alcorn on July 28, 2010
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We’ve all encountered individuals that seem to see everything from the glass half empty perspective.  Of course, everyone has those days when the grass is greener over there… but for some individuals this attitude is part of their personality.   Encounters with these types of individuals in your personal life require as much effort as needed to avoid the person.  But what if this person is a co-worker?  Or worse yet, someone you oversee?

Negativity in a group setting can have an adverse effect team morale,  it can erode teamwork and diminish the value of group objectives.  As a team leader or supervisor this is a challenge you face on top of the rigors of your daily responsibilities.  Below are some suggestions of how to approach Negative Nellies/Neds.

  • Have a private conversation with the employee or co-worker in question.  Ask them about their concerns!  Why do they say XYZ?
  • Once you have this information you can decide whether or not their concern is publically valuable (i.e. worth addressing with the whole group).  Sometimes you will find that an employee’s negative attitude is a product of misinformation or miscommunication.  In this case, you may want to address your whole team and give the correct information!



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  • Conversely, your employee may just have a glass half full perspective on life.  The best case scenario in this situation is that their negativity is checked by you, the team leader, so that it doesn’t infiltrate and effect the rest of the team. Listening & empathizing with your employee about their concerns may do the trick.  And make sure to touch base with your co-worker or employee at a later time just to remind them they have an outlet.

Lastly, step back and examine your own attitude.  Are you a Negative Nellie/Ned or Positive Pam/Peter??? You certainly can’t address negative attitudes appropriately if your own negative attitude is feeding (or worse, creating) them!

Do you have a tip on how you’ve dealt with a negative attitude successfully in the past? Leave a comment!

… Everything can be taken from a man but one thing;  the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  -Victor E. Frankl





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Posted Under: Motivation, Productivity