People who are entering the workforce today are estimated to have 12 to 15 jobs over the course of their career. To more seasoned workers, that may seem like a lot, but staying in a job two to five years looks like it is going to be the norm for millennials (the generation born between the early-1980's and early-2000's). There was a time in history, however, when people tended to stay with one employer for the majority of their career.
Changing jobs was the exception rather than the rule. This type of shift in employment trends leads to changes in workplace dynamics. Workers that change jobs more often can potentially count on working with more different co-workers in different organizations, all of which are going to have a unique organizational culture. Related: 5 Tips For Dealing With Difficult Co-Workers One thing is certain about the workplace, there have always been “negative" co-workers at work. It's not just work. Negative people exist in all facets of life. They are on the PTO, they work out at the gym, someone's life-long friend could be a negative person that drives him or her crazy. The workplace creates an environment where there are other people, personalities and a lot can be on the line. Some are at their best, others their worst. No one wants to deal with a negative co-worker in a way that hurts their own career, but rest assured, there are effective strategies for dealing with the (Negative) Nellie, (Gloomy) Gus and (Sad) Sam one encounters in his or her career.
Keep It PositiveThis has to be priority number one. When someone allows another person's negativity to get them negative, that battle is not only lost, it has breathed life into the office malcontent. Take being positive on as a challenge and do not back down. Stay as positive as possible. Everything at work and life is not always going to be going well, but one can, at the minimum, maintain as much of a positive outlook as possible. If it is too difficult to stay positive, simply do not backslide all the way to negative.
Keep It ProfessionalGiven the amount of time people spend at work, sometimes a funny shift takes place. It is almost like they can forget that they are at work. This can manifest itself around a negative co-worker by avoiding that co-worker. It can become easy to circumvent that person at all costs, but slowly this can turn into being unproductive. Try not to fall into this type of scenario and keep interactions short and professional, especially if that person is someone with whom you have to work or collaborate.
Listen Up To A PointSome negative people are actually going through rough patches in life and/or at work. If someone has shown confidence enough to confide in a co-worker with not-so-good news, it may help if that person can listen compassionately up to a point. Where is the line and how does someone know when to draw it? That is unique to each person and situation, but here are some tips:
- It should not interfere with work. A quick conversation here or there is one thing. Having one's day tied up listening to someone is not only unproductive, it is disrespectful to co-workers and the employer.
- Avoid gossip or speaking ill of others. Again, not every colleague is going to be a ray of sunshine, but as soon as that person's rain cloud is directed at other people, it is best to politely cut off the conversation. Lending an ear to a co-worker will probably not hurt anyone's reputation. Lending an ear to someone talking about other people behind their backs will drag that person down with the gossiper. When it comes to gossip, take the high road.
- Consider politely letting the person know that you are not able to talk due to workload and other demands. If this is a consistent strategy, the negative person will probably understand and may even recognize an opportunity to improve his or her own work ethic.