February 25


5 Creative Ways to Squash Negativity in the Workplace

By Joan Moran

February 25, 2015

breathing, communication, creativity, positivity

by Joan Moran

According to a recent Gallup Poll (August, 2014), American adults employed full time in the U.S. report working an average of 47 hours per week, almost a full workday longer than what a standard five-day, 9-to-5 schedule entails. In fact, half of all full-time workers indicate they typically work more than 40 hours, and nearly four in 10 say they work at least 50 hours!

Now, for those of you whose workplace environment is energized, harmonious and completely productive, mazel tov, congratulations, spot on and all that jazz!

If it isn’t, then “Houston, you’ve got a problem!.”

Most problems whether in the workplace or life are symptomatic of deeper, more endemic issues; for example, a lack of commitment on the part of a few co-workers could be related to their own unhappiness or their own fears of failure. Negative people can and will set off a domino effect that alters workplace relationships and co-worker congeniality. Negativity is a vicious cycle in the workplace, but the good news is that each individual can hack into his/her brain and cut it off at the pass.

According to Gary S. Topchik, author and managing partner of a Southern California-based consulting firm specializing in management and leadership development, organizational change and team building,

“Negativity is a virus that spreads rapidly from one person to another. Individuals can bring the virus to work or catch it from others in the organization. The negativity virus can spread quickly in a matter of days or weeks, and once transmitted, it is difficult to cure.”

Because negativity is so habitual in the workplace – whether it a sour-puss co-worker, a sarcastic boss, a demanding manager, or a snarly receptionist, being mindful of toxicity in the workplace is crucial for your daily peace of mind.

The following are 5 creative solutions that will give you conscious skill sets to combat negativity in the workplace:

Step Away From the Situation that Involves the Negative

I call this The 10 Percent Solution. Usually people get caught up in the emotions of the situation instead of taking a mental, even a physical step away from the person who is bringing negativity into your space. Remember that people who breathe negativity – pessimists, gossips, complainers, blamers, detail freaks – have their own agenda – an agenda not necessarily compatible with office congeniality or sustainable work ethics.  Specifically identify the negative behavior and either confront it or step away from it. In the end, negative people sabotage themselves while you continue to be fully productive at work.


Breathing is an unconscious, take-it-for-granted function for everyone who is alive. Breath is always there – until it isn’t. Breathing stops when fear or extreme discomfort arises. Perhaps there is someone in your office who is a “threatening” type and who is in to “blackmailing” co-workers, or your manager loves the idea of dressing you down for a seemingly unavoidable office infraction. No matter what the situation, find your breathing rhythm. Don’t talk, just listen. You can take the high ground with your breath, your poise and your grace. Judi Bar, who teaches yoga to patients with chronic diseases at the Cleveland Clinic, says, “Our breaths will either wake us up or energize us. It will relax us or just balance us.” Following your breath becomes a meditation and makes you more focused and productive while reducing stress.

Your Own Positivity Rules The Day

Are you a positive person? Do you get up every day with a sense of gratitude for your gifts and a heart that beats with joy? If you do, you’ve solved the problem of how to deal with negative attitudes in the workplace. A smile tells everything that anyone needs to know about you. Barbara Fredrickson, professor in the department of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that “Positive people are able to maintain a broader perspective and see the big picture, which helps them identify solutions…negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems.” The hostile, sarcastic, cynical person is truly afraid of positive people. They represent all that is happy in life and that’s a powerful tool for creativity and productivity in the workplace.

You Are The Boss Of You

No matter the work or social situations, you make the choices; you determine your behavior and attitudes.  You are the boss of you. The manager, President, CEO and co-workers add expertise to running the company. However, you make the decisions as to how you will carry out your job with creativity and innovation.  No one in the company can take away your ability to excel. Remember that someone in that company hired you for your expertise, your ability to get along well with others and your motivational and leadership skills.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Office hierarchical decisions can be challenging and difficult to comprehend. It often looks like a crazy game of “who’s on first.” Misunderstandings can become distractions from producing great work. You might even notice that rewards and promotions are given to people who don’t deserve them; you, in turn become negative and disillusioned. According to Chron, an online business journal, “Communication in business is especially important because money, clients and the well-being of the company are at stake…communication lines and processes (help) employees and executives pass messages along to the right people.” And if you balk at the one size fits all company platform, step up and communicate by example that individual thought creates an environment of excellence and positive outcomes.

If you still feel your workplace is riddled with negativity, be the boss of you and put forth positive attitudes. They can be infectious, too.

About the author

Joan Frances Moran is a Creative Thought Leader and motivational expert. She teaches management, employees and business leaders how to think creatively, implement innovative ideas, adapt to change, achieve work life balance and live a life of optimum wellness.

As a motivational speaker, writer and blogger, Joan combines 25 years of theater experience as well as over 10 years of experience as a yoga and meditation instructor at UCLA. Joan is the author of her humorous memoir, 60, Sex & Tango: Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer. She is also a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and Finer Minds.

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