How to Deal with Negativity at Work


Phil:  All right, Jenna, here's another submitted question."How do you stay in a workplace when your coworkers are always talking negative, and you try so hard to be positive and encouraging in your job, and trying to make a difference?"  How do you do that?

Jenna:  That's a tough place to be in. It's hard to be the lone positive person. But I have two things with this. So one is if you're in a small clinic and it's you and one other person, that one other person is negative, I think that the only solution to that is to somehow distance yourself from that person and have a good community or support system elsewhere. I still message two of my good friends from grad school when I need that kind of thing. But if you're in a bigger clinic, then I will challenge you because it's usually not only one really positive person and the rest are negative.  Usually, it's one positive person, a bunch of neutral people, and then maybe a couple of negative people.  So if you're in that situation, try to find the neutral people and pull them over to your side.  So spend more time with them. Talk to them more in a positive way and go with that.  Because I think a lot of times we assume that people are just negative when they might just be sitting next to somebody negative and just agreeing with them because it's easier. What do you think?

Phil:  This is hard. I tell you what, I think this might be the hardest situation.  Not the hardest.  There's a lot of hard situations.  But this is really tough because there are a few factors there going on. I think we should always try to be positive. I think you will always be in situations where there is a faction of people or a person that is going to be more negative than you want to be.  So leaving jobs isn't necessarily going to help that because it almost exists everywhere.  It's pretty ubiquitous.  It's somewhat human nature, particularly when you get into hospital settings.  I find this to be really the case.  Hospitals tend to breed a lot of that negativity. Certainly lots of different outpatient facilities do too.  So I think it is one, recognize that it is a lot of places; two, do all the things that you just said; but I would say three, this is one of the situations that I would really strongly have to evaluate how well I like the job and what other opportunities there are.  Because I've found in my career that you spend so much time with those people, you really got to like them. I know you're really passionate about that. How do you feel about me saying, like, hey, maybe it isn't the right place if it is negative?

Jenna:  Yeah, I mean, I think that's true if it is all negative.  But I have seen places that have enough good people turn the culture around where the negativity is almost nonexistent.  So I would say if you do like where you're at, let's say everything else kind of lines up for you trying to do something first.  But yeah, if at the end of the day, it's negative, you should look forward to going into work every day.  You should look forward to seeing your coworkers.  And if you go on vacation, you should miss them a little bit. That's what you want. Because, again, we're spending 40 hours a week with these people.

Phil:  I think you hit the nail on the head.  You should be looking forward to going to work.  You should be looking forward to the people that you work with and not everyone.  There's some people that you'll always just have to tolerate, but there should be those relationships there, and the research bears that out, when you have people at work that they care about and care about them, the job is always so much better.  So, yeah, really dive into that and dial in.  Reach out for additional questions or if you want additional clarification because we love helping people with this.


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