If you’re lucky, you work with great people. People you enjoy collaborating and communicating with. People who make the workday go by faster. And if you’re really lucky, there may be one or two that you even want to hang out with outside of work.
But in most companies, there are also a few people you just want to avoid. You dread seeing their names in your inbox. You avoid working with them on projects. And you definitely don’t want to turn into them.
These negative employees can have a big impact in the workplace environment.
Studies show that negative emotions are more contagious than positive ones, and they’re also more readily believed – according to experts, we spend three times as much time on negative emotions as on positive ones. Sigal Barsade, a professor of management at Wharton, calls negativity a “contagion,” arguing that emotions “travel from person to person like a virus.”
That’s all to say that negative employees have a negative effect on workplace culture – on productivity, on growth, and certainly on moral. Below, we’ll take a look at 5 types of negative employees in every office, and how you can avoid becoming one.
Everyone knows the Complainer. Sure, he does his work – but not without a lot of moaning and groaning. Every project is too hard, too easy, too time-consuming, or too boring.
And any tasks that fall outside of his job description? Forget about it. He brings negative energy to everything he does. He’s not great to work with – and he’s not that much fun to be around, either.
Check yourself: Do you tend to grumble about assignments, especially if they’re new or different? Try to think of them as opportunities instead of burdens. Taking on hard projects may lead to better breaks down the road – and it will definitely get you brownie points with your coworkers and managers.
Chances are, the One-Upper is really good at her job. The only problem? She’s not willing to admit that others might be, too. She constantly undermines her coworkers’ achievements, and she’s reluctant to give praise for others’ accomplishments.
Her work ethic might be admirable and her track record spotless, but her attitude and team spirit leave something to be desired.
Check yourself: Do you find yourself scoffing at your teammates’ accomplishments – even if it’s just in your head? Take a step back and remember: other peoples’ success doesn’t make yours any less meaningful. Next time a coworker has a big win, go out of your way to congratulate her.
The Tattletale doesn’t only struggle with accepting others’ triumphs. He points out their shortcomings, too.
He may micromanage coworkers’ comings and goings, even though it’s not part of his job description. He might constantly peer over your shoulder to make sure you’re working and not slacking off. He irritates his coworkers, and perpetually wastes his manager’s time with insignificant issues.
Check yourself: Of course, you should report any major issues to your manager. But if you’re worried about a teammate showing up 10 minutes late or you find yourself trying to find fault with others, just mind your own business – and keep it to yourself.
Not everyone is an extrovert, and that’s okay. But the Loner takes it to the next level – sometimes, it seems like she’s actually trying to avoid her coworkers. She shies away from group projects and keeps out of office conversations. She studiously avoids eye contact. And even though she probably doesn’t mean to, she comes off as standoffish and cold.
Check yourself: Are you known as the quiet one on your team? It’s not the end of the world, but do try to make an effort when it comes with communicating with your coworkers. Even a simple “Hi, how’s your day going?” can go a long way.
The Nervous Nelly
It’s great to ask questions and get feedback at work. What’s not so great? When you do it for every task that crosses your desk.
The Nervous Nelly can’t make a decision without asking for advice. He questions everything from his word choice in emails to his strategy in business decisions, and he can’t take action without first getting permission. It’s a drain on both his coworkers and his managers.
Check yourself: Do you find yourself asking for feedback or permission on every little thing? Remember that your company hired you for a reason. They think you can do your job, and so should you. Don’t ask, and just go do it – whatever it is.
Have you ever worked with – or been – any of these employees? How did you deal with it?