Saying “No” to Negativity

Employees arguing in a meeting while the manager is disengaged and distraught

As humans, we tend to always see the glass as half empty. It’s in our nature to fixate on the negative side of things when we could just as easily choose to see the positive. Why do we do this? How does this negative approach affect our lives and businesses? How can we say “no” to negativity and “yes” to positivity?

Where It All Began
Humans were born to be negative. The human brain is hardwired to react more strongly to negative stimuli and our attitudes are influenced more by negative situations than positive ones, which is referred to as negativity bias. This reaction comes from our inherent desire to avoid harm. Since the beginning of time, human survival has depended upon our skill to avoid danger. Our brains have developed ways to alert us to dangers and then respond which is why we have an easier time seeing the bad over the good (Positive Psychology). Reacting adversely is something evolution has taught us to do in order to survive, and has become a prevalent aspect in our day-to-day. When negativity becomes a lifestyle, it starts to affect every aspect of life, from our personal lives to our work environment and culture.

Effect on Individuals and Organizations
Negativity can have a tremendous impact on our personal lives, through our ability to experience happiness and foster healthy relationships. It also has an effect on our overall mental health. This can carry over into the workplace as well. When an organization has an overwhelmingly undesirable workforce, productivity and innovation suffer leading to despondency among employees, and a lack of collaboration and willingness to share creative ideas. In these organizations, turnover is higher, the quality of work is impacted, and unhealthy work relationships are formed. And while each individual element can be disruptive to the business, as time goes on and the issues mount, the bottom line will also reflect these changes (Chron).

Positivity Is Powerful
People who take a more positive approach to life are generally healthier, cultivate stronger relationships, enjoy life more, and are even more successful at work. An affirmative attitude in the workplace will foster creativity and fuel innovation. When employees have a more positive attitude, there is more collaboration, morale is improved and turnover is relatively low. The result is a greater willingness to share ideas and think creatively. In this vein, positivity can also be contagious. If organizations promote optimistic attitudes, it will spread throughout the workforce (Chron).

Decrease Negativity, Increase Positivity
Negativity is in our nature, but that doesn’t mean we can’t break this habit. For organizations, making a conscious decision to shift the general attitude and mentality of employees is a must. To combat an unenthusiastic workforce, managers can start by getting to the bottom of the situation with the employees who are weighing down the team. You can address the problem more efficiently if you know where it stems from.

Cultivating positivity can begin with adopting a lower tolerance for office gossip and clique-like behaviors. Cliques in the workplace form through a desire to fit in with colleagues and small groups form that are not open and welcoming to others, creating distance and feelings of unimportance among those not in the group. When employees feel ostracized in their place of work due to gossip and cliques, they become less engaged and moral and productivity decreases (Forbes). Celebrating successes and expressing appreciation for work performed attracts more confident employees who will breed a brighter, lighter environment. Managers and supervisors should also lead by example by demonstrating the kind of attitude they expect from their employees. Treating employees fairly and consistently, while always providing a reasoning behind actions, are ways managers can prevent negative gossip and attitudes among their employees (Chron).

The “Saying “No” To Negativity” webinar discusses the causes of negativity, how attitudes affect organizations, and how employees can elicit positivity in the workplace. QBS promotes industry-best practices, resources, and HR services to ensure clients have the tools and resources they need to run a successful, and positive, business. For more information or questions you may have regarding workplace negativity, and/or resources related to cultivating positivity in the workplace, please contact QBS.

Sources:

Chron- The Effects of Negativity in the Workplace 

Chron- How Do Negative & Positive Attitudes Affect the Workplace

Forbes- 4 Tactics to Turn Toxic Cliques Into Collaborative and Inclusive Teams

Positive Psychology- What is Negativity Bias and How Can it be Overcome?