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Tips on Dealing With Negative Coworkers

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Anyone who's ever held a job has probably run into a negative coworker. Regardless of how this person demonstrates her negativity -- either by whining a lot, adopting a bitter attitude or just being negative in general -- it can make your job pretty tough. The good news is, you don't have to let the situation have a negative impact on your work life. Follow a few tips to deal with your negative coworkers in a positive way.

Shut it Down

The first tactic is to simply ignore the negative behavior. Negative people will continue their being negative when you reinforce it, according to a Psychology Today article by psychologist and author Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter. If you ignore the negativity or don't give it any energy, the behavior might just stop. At the very least, you'll be spared the gossip and other negative chatter that can hurt your morale and take you away from your actual work.

Politely Disagree

While you could simply confront the negative people and let them know how their behavior is affecting you, that's not necessarily going to elicit the response you want. Negative people tend to be especially averse to criticism about their actions or behaviors, University of Texas marketing professor Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D. said in an article in Psychology Today. Instead of confronting the person or people, calmly and respectfully express that you feel differently. Over time, negative coworkers might see that you're not willing to go along with their behaviors.

Get Management Help

While you don't necessarily want to tattle on your coworkers, it still might be worth getting help from the higher-ups. Instead of asking your boss to confront the negative coworker, ask her to help you come up with solutions for coping with a colleague's poor attitude. Perhaps that means moving your desk to a different part of the office, changing your schedule to reduce the amount of time you must spend around the negative coworker, or making other arrangements that can improve the situation. When you bring it up with your boss, talk about how the situation is affecting your productivity or your ability to do your work. She will likely be more concerned with that than she will be about your feelings about another person.

Find the Positive People

It's one thing to go home and talk to your friends or family about your situation at work, which can certainly help. But you also should look for people at work you can rely on to bring you up when you need it most. Find coworkers with positive attitudes and make a point to spend more time with them. If you want a more positive work environment, you'll have to focus on positivity yourself.