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How to Change Negative Attitudes at Your Workplace

A negative attitude can be contagious, so make those negative attitudes positive ones! Some employees who have negative attitudes aren’t doing anything particularly wrong; they just have a cynical, negative perspective that pervades your business. So what do you do?

To improve the level of optimism at your workplace, keep the following in mind:

  • Acknowledge concerns. Don’t gloss over complaints or present a Pollyanna view of things. If appropriate, acknowledge the other person’s point of view and provide clarification on any misunderstandings.

  • Be part of the solution. Instead of allowing your employees to present only problems, encourage them to propose solutions. Ask them to offer at least one resolution to any complaint.

  • Encourage humor. Humor can diffuse tension and ease stress. But humor should be positive and lighthearted, and should never occur at the expense of others. And in today's world where sarcasm and "snark" are considered good forms of humor, it's tougher and more important than ever stick to humorous remarks that uplift the workplace rather than add to the negativity.

  • Make time for others. Have an open-door policy and be approachable. This encourages employees to be open and upfront about problems and concerns.

  • Watch your body language. Smile, establish eye contact, listen attentively, and nod in encouragement. Use your physical actions to send a positive message to your staff.

    On the flip side, avoid body language that's perceived as negative. Drumming your fingers; scratching; crossing your arms over your chest; rubbing your face, chest, or neck when speaking; and mumbling are all perceived negatively by others and suggest that you are disengaged or distrustful.

  • Suggest privacy, if appropriate. If a major setback or crisis occurs at work for an employee, encourage the person to take a few minutes to be alone. That way, the individual can work through strong emotions and avoid scenes or actions that he or she may later regret.

  • Praise, praise, praise. When successes occur, share them with others and praise those who made them happen. Recognizing achievements makes everyone feel good.

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