Working in a toxic environment is never fun. While the majority of us don’t mind our jobs, those with negative co-workers have a different story. Even if you don’t see them every day, having a party pooper in your space is a surefire way to harsh your mellow. We know it’s frustrating, but you don’t have to let them put a damper on your day. Here’s how you can efficiently deal with a negative co-worker.
Avoid Office Drama
It’s not uncommon for some sort of drama to occur at work. When that happens, usually a few employees will only add fuel to the fire. But, you don’t have to be one of them. Steer clear of office politics by sticking with your crew or merely not engaging. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself in the long run. Plus, unless it was somehow specified in your contract, you’re under no obligation to partake in drama. It’ll just bring you down.
Try to Better Understand Them
Okay, it’s true. Not everyone is a damaged soul waiting to be rescued, but people are misunderstood. Not to mention, you may not be able to avoid this person so easily. So, if you’re forced to work in tight quarters with them, try to get to know them a bit better. You don’t need to become best friends, but you can improve your work relationship.
Maybe they’re overworked, bring personal problems into the workplace, or not one for work friends. If they have seemingly legitimate reasons for their behavior, it might be worth asking if they need help with a project or trying to improve your connection.
Additionally, Harvard Business Review wrote that many of us don’t have any self-awareness at work. So, that may be another explanation for their behavior. HBR suggests having a legitimate conversation with the person. If it goes well, you’ll both be better off for it. If not, at least you’ll have done all you can do. They also recommend asking for feedback on your personality as well.
While occasionally chatting with co-workers isn’t a bad idea — even the negative ones — make sure you set boundaries. Not every co-worker is worthy of your time. Susan M. Heathfield suggests practicing professional courage when a co-worker just wants to complain for the sake of it. She writes, “Back gracefully out of additional conversations. The co-worker will attempt to appeal to your sympathetic nature, but if you believe the negativity is unwarranted, don’t spend your time listening or helping the co-worker to address the negative feelings.”
Do What’s Right For You
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. You’re there to do a job. While having a negative co-worker would certainly impact your day-to-day, there’s only so much you can do. Don’t tear out your hair trying to become friendly with someone who isn’t reciprocating. If it’s becoming too much of a problem, speak with your manager or human resources. After all, it’s part of their job to help with tough situations.
On the other hand, if you’re fully at your wit’s end, quit. It may sound rash, but pulling your mood down every day for the sake of a job isn’t worth your mental and physical health. If you’re working at your dream job, this is obviously a last resort. But remember that it’s not really your dream job if you’re going home drained or in a bad mood. The bottom line is, you need to pay attention to what you really need.
Negative co-workers are definitely a damper on your workday, but there are a few things you can try before you up and leave. Talk to them, try to get to know them better or distance yourself from them if they’re just a downer. The person who should come first in your life is you.