Times are tough, and negativity can creep into the workplace. When you have workers who are expressing grievances, complaining generally, and just holding a negative attitude about everything, you need to take charge of the situation:
- Arrange a one-on-one. Focus on your conversation with the negative/complaining worker. Don’t take phone calls or allow interruptions. Listen, ask questions, and resist the urge to interrupt with judgments and evaluations.
- Don’t take it personally. Another person’s negative mindset isn’t about you, even if they use it to criticize or attack you.
- Stay focused on the problem. Acknowledge the worker’s complaint or grievances with professionalism and respect; but don’t let the person derail the conversation and turn it into a rant of accusations or insults.
- Empathize but stay firm. It’s appropriate and acceptable to be empathetic; but be firm about the person’s need to work with you to handle the situation and have a better attitude. Remind them about how their negative attitude affects others.
- Put (as possible) a timeline to resolving the situation. If you agree to make specific changes, make sure to do that in a timely fashion. At the same time, follow up to make sure the employee takes any actions agreed on.
- See grievances as an opportunity to improve employee relations, morale, and engagement.