Office Negativity




by: Kyle Jones

I often hear of companies with managers discussing and often complaining about negativity. I also hear people complaining about their jobs and how they wish things were different. Then, I hear about the grass on the other side and how things are not as good as they thought they might be.

Hiring A Complainer

I can imagine the answer if a candidate was asked the following question:  Are you a chronic complainer?

The answer, most probably and almost most definitely would be “NO”.  The person being interviewed is not going to admit that complaining is something they do regardless if they realize they do it or not.  Office Negativity, Kyle Jones HR, Kyle Jones, HR, Mississippi SHRM, South MSSHRM

We all put on our best face and do our best to say what needs to be said to get the job.  Let’s be honest…most interviews mean the person you interview is not totally the person who arrives for work.  The person who arrives for work is not the person who is there two weeks into the job.  We change…adapt….conform…or not.

It is the negative “or nots” who make the problem.

What is negativity?

Negativity is defined as:

The expression of criticism of or pessimism about something: “he was taken aback by the negativity of the press”.

(Google Drive Dictionary)

What is Office Negativity?


This leads us to ask what is office negativity?

According to, it is:

Expressing unhappiness and other negative thoughts, often accompanied by resistance toward work and responsibilities to the company.

The following is an excerpt from 3 Ways to Escape Office Drama and was written by Kelly Hanlin McCormick.

Some amount of chit-chat and banter can be funny and help to give everyone a few minutes’ break from a big project. But the danger is that it can also turn into an all-out venting and commiseration session where people begin to say things that, at best, they regret and, at worst, can get them into trouble with HR.

Where does the negativity start?

It could start with one employee.  It could start with several.  But, in the end, it is the management who does or does not do anything about it.  If left alone, it becomes and issue…and can spread throughout the company.

We all have things about our employers that we would change. It is important for employees to remember that there are reasons why things are done this or that way.  It is important they remember that management cannot always share everything with the employees.

Office Negativity, HR to Who, Kyle Jones

What makes an employee negative to you?  How do you deal with the employee?  Do you allow him/her to just “be” because that is “just them”?  Have you ever confronted an employee who is negative and have them realize that they were negative and never know that all along?  Or, did you confront them and they go the opposite direction and you ultimately terminate them?

In any job there is usually a root of the negativity and I think it falls into two sets:

  1. set created by management
  2. set created by employees

It could actually be a combo of both but I’ll stick with the two.

Management could cause the negativity in several ways:

  • Don’t do as promised.

  • Don’t communicate with staff on things that can be told.

  • Don’t appreciate staff.

  • Consider staff as a commodity and not invest in that commodity.

  • Place personal agendas as priority without regard to impact on the company and its employees.



Employes, can cause this by:

  • Assuming everyone hates their job and is always negative.

  • look for the worst in things.

  • Over reactive and over sensitive.

  • Never looking for positive.

  • Not saying “no” and becoming overworked, underappreciated and devalued.

  • Allowing themselves to become a number and not an employee.


McCormick goes on to say:

Let’s face it: There’s a reason why Dilbert and Office Space resonate with corporate employees all over the world—sometimes work sucks. But the reality is that we have to make a go of it, and you’re going to be spending a good part of your waking hours in that office. The only thing you can really control is you, so empower yourself to make your workplace the best environment possible.

Action Plan

ALWAYS remember:  Every company is not perfect.  Not Google.  Not Disney.  Not YOUR company.  Not MINE.  Companies are filled with people and no people are If we look for the worst…we will find the worst.  If we look for what we have….we will find more reasons to be positive.  TAKE THE NEGATIVE….TURN IT INTO A POSITIVE.


How should Human Resources handle this?

How would you handle negativity in the office?


Google Dictionary


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