5 Tips for Dealing with Moody, Negative Coworkers


Moods are contagious, especially in close-knit environments such as small offices or departments. While it is normal for everyone to have a bad day every now and then, some people seem to thrive on being miserable. If you have a coworker who is constantly negative, sarcastic and snarky, being around this person all day, everyday, can be downright depressing. The last thing you want is to fall under their negative spell. Use the following five tips to learn how to keep your head held high and to maintain a sunny outlook when dealing with negative coworkers:

1. Be Supportive to Co-workers

As a team, it is important to be there for one another when something goes wrong. To be productive, coworkers need to be able to sort through issues and work together to find the best solutions. Sometimes, all an individual needs is an understanding ear and a little compassion.

2. Do Not Continuously Engage in Negative Discussions

As a naturally kind person, you may feel inclined to listen to your negative colleague’s endless rants, but doing so benefits no one. Constantly serving as a sounding board for this person’s never-ending complaints drags you down and makes you appear as their ally. Expect the person to continue seeking you out if you continue to offer a sympathetic shoulder to lean on.

If you must be around this negative person, try to keep any negative interactions as short as possible. You can’t control their behavior, but your actions can impact whether or not they continue you engage. Consider offering sound, encouraging advice. Hopefully it will help them turn their situation (and attitude) around. However, if the negative interactions continue, remember you are there to work. Simply remind them that you have a lot on your plate and you’re sorry, but you need to get back to your current tasks.

3. Steer Clear of Negative Coworkers

It is probably impossible to completely avoid your coworker, but do your best to limit interactions. If your desks are close together, wear headphones while you work to send a polite, yet firm message that you do not want to be interrupted. Avoid spending any time outside the office with the person when they are in a negative mood (e.g. going to lunch together or getting drinks after work).

4. Talk to Your Manager

If your best attempts to block out your colleague’s negativity prove ineffective, pull your boss aside for a discussion. This may feel like tattling, but when a coworker’s poor attitude starts to lower your own morale and negatively impacts your performance, you have to take action. Your manager will likely have a talk with the person to find the root of the problem. The manager might not understand why their employee is unhappy and the employee might not understand the true impact their negativity is having on the office environment. Hopefully, it resolves itself, without resulting in a permanent solution.

5. Surround Yourself With Positive People

Maintain a positive mindset with the help of dynamic people. Ultimately, you have to make the decision to rise above your colleague and choose to not allow their poor attitude to bring you down. Seek out coworkers who are more up-beat, and spend as much of your (free) workday as possible with them. Do things you enjoy in your free time as well, surrounding yourself with friends and family members to boost your mood. When you make a conscious effort to focus on the cheerful aspects of your work, you mindset gradually shifts until you have a more positive outlook overall.

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