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How To Deal With Negative Coworkers

Negativity in the workplace is never a recipe for success. It can seriously affect your mood, perspective and productivity. And unfortunately, you’ll likely encounter a negative coworker sometime during your career endeavors.

I’ve been in this exact situation. I worked with someone whom was unhappy and negative, and this person wore their emotions on their sleeve. Although I didn’t work closely with them, their behavior would affect my day negatively. I was less excited to come into the office and to do my work. When I realized this person’s attitude was impacting how I felt at work, I made some mental adjustments to help me drown out any negativity.

Here are six tips to help you deal with a negative coworker:

1.  Be nice

It’s not easy to treat someone with respect and kindness when they aren’t showing you the same courtesies. However, I think kindness is the best reaction you can have, especially in the workplace. Remember, you are responsible for your own actions. As soon as you retaliate, you’ve entered into even trickier territory. Don’t go down that slippery slope. Be nice.

2.  Be empathetic

If you stop for a moment to put yourself in your coworker’s shoes, it will help you understand what’s causing the coworker’s attitude. Perhaps the coworker is dealing with personal issues or has taken on more at work. Maybe they’ve been at the company longer than you, but you’re succeeding faster. Or, maybe you’re both reaching for the same promotion. Take a moment to understand what stressors could be causing your coworker’s negativity. This will help you respond appropriately to their behavior, as well as encourage you to not take their actions personally.

3.  Be supportive

Once you understand what may be fueling your coworker’s negativity, you can determine how to be supportive. Whether it’s work or personal stressors, sometimes they just need to vent. Being supportive and being a listening ear can be so helpful to someone who needs to have their feelings or thoughts heard. You never know what kind of support and motivation people receive outside of work, so be as supportive as you can.

4.  Don’t stoop to their level

It’s tempting to want to show your coworker’s true colors, but it likely won’t help the situation. Don’t allow your behavior to fall to the coworker’s level. Focus on the good, be positive and let anything else roll off your shoulders. You’re working hard on your career, and you certainly don’t want to jeopardize what you’ve built so far.

5.  Keep your chin up

It’s essential to do your best to not let workplace drama affect your overall mood or productivity. Treat everyone equally and separate yourself from negativity. When you remain focused on the tasks in front of you, any negativity will just sound like white noise.

6.  Speak up if negativity affects your productivity

Hopefully your coworker’s negativity has decreased due to your support and empathy. But if it’s beginning to affect the quality of your work, it’s may be time to speak up. You could have a friendly, private discussion with the coworker about how you’ve been sensing their extra stress and how it affects the office environment. If you’re not comfortable going directly to the source, you could instead alert a supervisor that the environment is becoming negative, which is decreasing productivity.

Having a negative coworker is not the easiest territory to navigate. Be mindful of what the coworker may be going through – in or out of the office – and always treat them respectfully. Sometimes, it just takes taking the high road to allow yourself to not be bothered by someone else’s actions.


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Published by

Lauren Hamilton

Lauren Hamilton is the founder of, a lifestyle and relationship blog offering relationship advice and encouraging women to be the happiest, most confident version of themselves through positivity and self-love. She's also a freelance writer and communications strategist. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, and check out some of her accomplishments on her portfolio.

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