Dealing with Negative Colleagues
By Lolita Villa

Most of the time, you don't get a chance to choose the people you work with. Working in a corporate setting is a package deal, and often, you just have to live with all the pros and cons, including working with negative colleagues.

People in the workplace come in all shapes and sizes, persuasions and dispositions. It would be unrealistic to assume that you can get along with people all the time. So how do you deal with negative people? As long as you keep your own attitude in check, there are ways to be proactive and keep the peace at the office.

Understand the other person. If someone's attitude is affecting the work at hand or relationships with your clients or customers, it is important that you don't ignore his attitude as "none of your business." But before reacting to his negativity, try to see the source of such behavior. Factors can be any of the following: personal problems, stress, job insecurity, loss of loyalty, stunted personal growth and so on. It will help you respond in terms of how you can help the situation instead of feeling resentful at how the person is acting.

Just do your job. Most of the time, people can be spiteful, manipulative, insecure and overly competitive that it throws you. You may be tempted to lash out or do something drastic, but make sure you just continue to perform quality work no matter what. Sometimes you are merely being harassed into making a bungling fool of yourself for whatever selfish agenda they have in mind. In some cases, negative behavior stem from a person's true character. Don't take it personally, and certainly, don't allow it to distract you from what needs to be done.

Feed your self esteem. You may be enduring a rabid boss, a vicious manager or a bitchy co-worker. But if you don't counter such aggression, all that negativity will take its toll in the long run. Focus on the good things in your life instead of dwelling on the badness in the office. Feed your sense of self-worth by putting meaning in everything you do, pampering yourself, or indulging in weekend activities that will make use of your talents and will benefit others. You can't take control of other people's attitudes, but remember that you are always in charge of your own.

Be a role model. You can't tell people how to treat you, but you can influence them by the way you treat them. Don't empower a negative person by reacting to his weaknesses. Be a role model by treating everyone equally with respect. A co-worker who keeps gossiping about you will eventually run out of things to say if you don't give him a reason to gossip. Be consistently transparent, work-conscious, and honest. Don't be a victim, just try to win the negativists by your good example.

Avoid making accusations. If you do decide to talk to the negativist about his attitude towards you, don't make any hasty accusations that will only complicate things further. Negative people are often reactive so you need to choose your words carefully. People feel defensive when they hear the word ''you," because they automatically feel they are being judged. Instead of saying ''you misunderstood me,'' say rather ''I might not have been clear.'' And when you ask questions, do so with the intent to clarify, not to judge.

Be straightforward. Don't make underhanded retaliations by being sarcastic or making fun of the person. A vengeful spirit will only fuel the fire, so try to control that. If you have something to say, be straightforward and firm without being spiteful. When discussing differences, stick to the topic at hand. Don't dig up past issues and pick at old wounds. This attempt can only lead to confusion, impatience and resentment. Attack the root of the present problem. Once it is resolved, bury the hatchet and forget about it.

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