It wouldn’t be work if it were easy, but just because work isn’t always a cakewalk doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enjoyable.
What I mean is that we all deserve to go to work at a place that fosters positivity. A place that we feel welcome to go to every day, in an environment we feel comfortable and safe in, and in a place where people are supportive.
Essentially, a place that meets our inherent human desires of feeling valued, listened to, and accepted.
When you work in an environment that makes you feel the complete opposite of those feelings, it can be debilitating and make you really hate your job, even if you love your chosen profession.
If those feelings or the description of a negative workplace resonates with you, here are some steps you can take to cope and improve the situation effectively:
1) Check Your Energy
It doesn’t matter which way you slice it; negativity is draining. And chances are if you’re reading this post, you’re probably not a contributing factor to the negative environment because you’re self-aware of what’s happening around you.
However, it’s important to address personal responsibility in every scenario, so I want you to consider if your mindset might not be helping the situation.
I say this because I know how easy it is for negativity to drain our energy and subsequently spiral into a negative mindset that believes nothing will change or that you can't do anything to make it better.
Rather than getting in this spiral, be mindful of self-reflecting and checking your energy to make sure that you’re not contributing to the negative environment with a poor outlook or demeanor that could be fueling the primary source of negative energy in your environment.
2) Find an Outlet
So, how do you fix a negative mindset? By finding an outlet.
Outlets for negative energy can take a variety of forms from seeking professional counsel, to letting yourself get absorbed in a hobby you love, taking your mind off of things by disconnecting with a book or nature, whatever works for you.
The key to finding what works is trying different things and not giving up on the search for a new outlet if the first one you try isn’t the best fit.
Although this might feel like putting a Band-Aid on the problem, if it better equips you to be content at work and happier outside of work, it’s worth the time and energy spent.
However, one thing to note is that you shouldn't make your primary outlet another person such as a colleague, your partner, or a friend.
This can result in dragging that negativity to other facets of your life, which won't help and opens up the high possibility of making your feelings worsen.
3) Carefully Communicate
Sometimes the previous two steps are enough to make you feel better about your work environment, but sometimes situations call for more direct action.
If you honestly believe that there needs to be an intervention, be sure to do it with care, because as I’m sure you’ve already feared, your job could be on the line.
Start by raising your concerns privately either with the person you report to or a colleague who you can confide in (remember, not complain to, confide in). Depending on the severity of the negativity, you may find that you only need to communicate minimally to ease negativity.
4) Focus on Solutions
If you do decide to take action by communicating your concerns and frustrations, the best way to approach the situation is with solutions rather than blame.
When we blame, we inflame, and that can cause the negativity in your work environment to become worse.
Instead of focusing on who is at fault, focus on changes that can be made to address the root of the problem, and what specific action steps can be done. Acknowledge that changing an environment or team morale takes a team effort and that this includes you, too.
Of course, your negative work environment could be due to a more isolated situation and in that case, follow the same approach of careful communication and focusing on the solutions, but keep your efforts for change private and only between your boss and the person you’re having an issue with.
This approach ensures that you’re not spreading the negativity to other people in your workplace, plus you’re giving your efforts to mitigate the situation a much better chance of success.
5) Move On
Finally, there will be times that regardless of what steps you take to improve your outlook or to find solutions to the root of your negative workplace, problems can’t be fixed and instead you need to move on.
If you decide that this is the best route for you, start devising a plan to get out of your current environment and into a new one.
Who knows, this could be an excellent opportunity to branch out on your own and open up the possibility of providing positive and supportive career opportunities for others.
No matter what steps you take to cope or ease the negativity in your environment, remember that coming from a place of positivity is always the best approach.
Most people would agree that they prefer being happy over feeling sad or frustrated and that they would rather feel encouraged and uplifted rather than feeling alone.
If you come from a place of positivity and treat others the way you would like to be treated as you navigate a negative environment, I think you’ll find that the outcomes are more almost always favorable.