How to Reach Your Goals at Work Despite Negative Nancy

Businesswoman sitting across desk from man and shaking finger at him

“That can never be done.” “We’ve tried that already.” “Those plans always fail around here.” “We’re smart, and have already thought of everything.” Those are just a few of the statements you might hear from a “Negative Nancy” at work. Frustration can develop from being around colleagues or a boss that seems to focus on taking the negative viewpoint, or trying to kill ideas and solutions before they are truly considered. How can you do your best work and bring new ideas to the table when they are constantly being shot down?

Working environments with one or more negative employees can quickly become toxic. When the focus is on negativity, stress increases and overall productivity usually decreases. By nature, many life science professionals are innovative and perform best in places that harness creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s important to preserve your positive outlook and meet your performance objectives. How can you thrive on the job with negative coworkers? Here’s how to reach your goals despite working with a Negative Nancy.

Accentuate the positive

There’s quite a bit of research supporting the benefits of being positive and attaining success at work. We are constantly bombarded by bad news on television, online, and via social media. It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity and drama, allowing it to influence how you see everyday life. Become aware of how you are looking at situations. When you present ideas, suggestions, or plans at work be positive about them. Your positivity (which should also be backed by solid research) can be what’s needed to help institute positive change in a negative environment. 

Question their point of view

If a Negative Nancy comments on how your ideas will never work or aren’t feasible, consider questioning their point of view in a tactful way. How you respond will also depend on if the Negative Nancy is your boss or another co-worker who you don’t report to. If the Negative Nancy is your boss, be aware that more politics will probably be involved and to tread lightly. In this case, ask more specific questions about why they don’t believe in your idea. Have they ever actually tried it? If they’ve done something similar in the past, note how your idea is different. If the Negative Nancy isn’t your manager, your responses can be more general, since you don’t need their approval.

Keep more to yourself

Once you’ve identified that you work with one or a few negative employees, keeping more to yourself can be a good strategy. Some Negative Nancys who’ve been working in a company for a long time enjoy killing the ideas of others, because they believe they have seniority over them. It can become a way to feed their ego and give them a perceived sense of authority. Protect your positive energy and ideas as much as possible. You don’t want to succumb to their influence and become overly negative like them. Your ability to achieve raises and promotions depends on the results you produce and your overall performance.

Reduce your time around them

When you’re not required to be around negative colleagues, choose to spend time with more positive coworkers or by yourself. This can be difficult for some extraverts, who enjoy socializing with others. Remember that the effects of being around a Negative Nancy can be damaging in many ways. Most people assume that we are like the people we hang around. You can develop a disparaging reputation based on being associated with a Negative Nancy. In addition, many negative employees don’t truly want to see others be successful, because then there’s nothing to be negative about! You will have a much harder time achieving your goals when you spend a lot of time around negativity.

Growing and progressing at work can be difficult in the presence of a Negative Nancy. They are that person who shoots down your ideas and possible solutions without giving them a real chance. When you’re with negative colleagues, accentuate the positive in situations and actively question or challenge their point of view. As a whole, it’s a good practice to keep more to yourself when you are required to be around a Negative Nancy and to limit your time with them. What is one way you will reduce the effect of your negative coworkers?

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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