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A Study of Managing Workplace Negativity

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Essay title: A Study of Managing Workplace Negativity

A Study of Managing Workplace Negativity


People with negative emotions have a much greater chance of experiencing negative stress and are more likely to experience dissatisfaction with their lives and jobs.1 Some people appear to be born with a genetic predisposition toward negativity while others appear to become negative as a result of their environment. There are those who agree that one’s personality is a combination of genetic make-up and life experiences.2 People who chronically express negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors increase the likelihood of engaging in destructive actions.

Workplace negativity is rapidly “emerging as a disease of the 21st century corporation,” and like any other chronic illness, it could undermine corporate operations and cripple long-term growth.3 Negativity is also a problem that can be the deciding factor between success and failure for both managers and organizations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. companies lose around $3 billion a year due to the effects of negative attitudes and behaviors.


The purpose of this study is to determine the causes of negativity and the effect it has on managers, individuals, and the workplace environment. The study will reveal important factors managers feel are eminent in dealing with pervasive individuals and team negativity. A discussion will identify tips that management, as well as, employees can use to eliminate and prevent negativity in the organization.

Employees with negative attitudes expect the worst to happen. They tend to complain a lot, resist change and new ideas. They are not motivated and can cause an unproductive environment. Companies lose money because of increased customer complaints and error rates, elevated employee turnover and absences, and reduced morale, motivation, loyalty and creativity.4 Much of the problem comes from, but are not limited to, workers who lack confidence in their skills, who feel powerless over decisions that affect their work or who have lost familiarity with their co-workers through downsizings, reorganizations or remote-work alternatives.5 If managers don’t address or deal with negativity, it can take over.


This study will be approached through a combination of current and historical library and electronic research, descriptive research, correlation research, and casual comparative research. Information will be collected on the historical relevance of workplace negativity as well as causes, effects, and solutions associated with managing workplace negativity.


Listed are some definitions that may be helpful throughout this study.

1. Negativity – Something that lacks all positive, affirmative, or encouraging features; A feature or characteristic that is not deemed positive, affirmative, or desirable.

2. Managing – To make submissive to one’s authority, discipline, or persuasion.

3. Workplace – A place where people are employed.

4. Workplace negativity – An attitude that people have toward their work, bosses, colleagues, or customers. It causes conflicts and the lowering of morale, productivity and profitability.

According to Gary Topchik, there are 14 different types of negative people. Below is the list and meaning of each that will be discussed throughout this study.6

5. The Locomotives – The locomotives express their negativity by steam-rolling over people. They are very angry and hostile and take out their frustrations on others.

6. The Ice People/Resisters – Any change, no matter how small, can upset the ice people and cause an outbreak of negativity. They love the status quo; try to change it and their resistance will flare up.

7. The Perfectionist – This person’s standard of performance are not realistic, and even excellent work that is praised by others is unacceptable.

8. The Not-My-Jobbers – These individuals express their negativity by refusing to do any task no matter how simple, if they decide it is not part of their job responsibility.

9. The Rumormongers – These individuals take out their negativity toward work by spreading rumors.

10. The Pessimists – Pessimists experience the world as an unpleasant place. They expect the world to fall down on them, and if it doesn’t, they do everything possible to help bring it down.

11. The Uncommitted – These are the people who do not take their jobs seriously, making their teammates work more

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