How to Stop Negative Co-workers From Ruining Your Day In The Workplace

by Feb 17, 20168 comments

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the road speaking. I rented a car. And after my keynote presentation, I returned it to Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

The pleasant young lady who took care of the paperwork for me gave me a ride back. Her name is Ashley. She just graduated from college. She is currently in training to be a manager.

I asked Ashley about her job with Enterprise. She told me that she absolutely loves it. I decided to go deeper.

When people give you the vanilla answer, always ask a follow-up question to probe deeper.

That’s when you discover what’s going on in the person’s life. Otherwise, they’ll tell you that everything is great.

I said to Ashley, “That’s wonderful! I’m glad you love your job. But let me ask you this: Are there times when you feel like your job is not all that wonderful?” She said, “Of course.”

I said, “I’m going to tell you exactly why your job is not always so pleasant.” She said, “Really? I want to hear that.”

I said, “I bet there’s, at least, one negative co-worker who makes life miserable at work.”

Ashley giggled.

She realized I was on to something. I told her, “I call that negative person the rattlesnake.”

I went on to tell her that rattlesnakes are the ones that focus on the negative. They are the backbiters, gossipers, and bullies. They enjoy putting others down.

I bet you are thinking of at least one person in your workplace who is just like that. Right?

It’s the kind of person you wish the company would gladly pay just to stay at home.

I often jokingly tell my audiences to send their rattlesnakes to the competition. Give them an excellent recommendation to they can go ruin the competition. Though it’s funny, there’s some truth to that.

I affectionately call those negative people… jerks.

I know. Jerk is not a kind word. I supposed I could find a better way to say it. But, isn’t it true that some people are jerks? They shake your foundation to cause you to lose your cool. Am I right?

As I continued to tell Ashley about negative people and their ways, she was smiling. She could not believe I was so right about what I said.

She said, “How do you know all that? Are you some psychic?” I said, “No. I just study human behaviors.” Let me offer you three ways to handle negative people.

3 Ways to Handle With Negative People In The Workplace

1. Accept The Fact That They Are Who They Are

The point I’m making is that those mean-spirited and aggravating people won’t go away. They will always be among us.

During your brief journey on this planet, you will have to interact and work with them. There’s no way around it. You can’t hide from them.

All right, you might be saying to yourself, “Yes, I know you are right. But how do I deal with them, so they don’t create that much stress in my life?”

Great question!

The answer is simple. Just accept the fact that they are who they are. You can’t change that. Besides, trying to change them is a losing battle.

Move on and refuse to let them rule your life. Don’t pray for them to disappear. Instead, you need to pray for the wisdom to accept them just as they are.

If you didn’t know, jerks are jerks anywhere and everywhere.

Here’s another fact that is mind-blowing:

Did you know that negative and mean-spirited people make up only two percent of our society? Let me put it this way for you…

Let’s say you work with one hundred people on your team. That means 98 of them are good people. But two of them are bound to be rattlesnakes or jerks.

The sad thing is, those two people can cause you a lot of grief and aggravation. They can make it look that the whole world if full of them. Do you see what I mean?

The point is; that person who gets on your last nerve is going to be just that way. Don’t wish for them to be different.

Instead, change your attitude toward their behavior. Acknowledge that it is what it is. Make sense?

So, your mantra from now on when a negative person tries to push your hot button is this simple phrase:

“It is what it is.”

Yes, if you are dealing with a co-worker who won’t stop bothering you, close your eyes and say, “It is what it is.”

Every time you think about it, just repeat that one sentence. Then say a silent prayer so God can change them.

2. Don’t Take Them Home With You

It’s very unlikely you go home with a profound sense of gratitude and joy for the excellent people in your work environment. My guess is, you probably take them for granted.

But, for some odd reason, you just can’t stop thinking and talking about the negative people at work—the jerks that make life miserable.

You go home. Instead of spending time connecting and strengthening your relationships with the people at home, you keep thinking about how such and such ruined your day.

It is as if thinking about it will change the situation. The reality is, you are aggravating yourself even more. Simply put, you are hurting yourself.

Now, how do you refuse to take those aggravating co-workers home with you? Well, do you remember your new mantra? That’s right!

“It is what it is.”

That’s how you stop negative people in the workplace from mentally torturing you.

Psychologists tell us that we are wired to avoid pain and to gain pleasure. That means, as much as Ashley loves her job, there are times when still dreads going there.

I’m sure once she becomes a manager; she’ll have to deal with more aggravation from negative employees.

How in the world do those rattlesnakes persuade someone to hire them in the first place? Really. How do you think they do it?

Well, they do it behind a mask. They talk a good game during the job interview. They are sweet and say everything the interviewer wants to hear.

But once they get the job, everything changes. That’s how rattlesnakes behave. They are slick and deceitful.

I mean one negative, pessimistic, and pain-the-neck person can slow down a whole team.

Their very presence dims the light in the room. They show up at the meeting, and they make people feel uncomfortable.

If the human resources department were paying attention, they would weed out those rattlesnakes. They would get rid of them. Can I hear you say amen?

Look, for the sake of your health, and the awesome people in your life, don’t take the jerks home with you. Quit talking about them.

Besides, your family members at home don’t deserve the aggravation you bring to them.

3. Expect Them to Show Up

The secret to making sure rattlesnakes never get to you is to expect them.

Every day when you show up to work, you should know one or two will try to spread their venom.

Here’s the way it works. As soon as that person shows up or call on the phone, you get yourself mentally ready.

Just say silently and with a smile on your face, “I read about you in an article recently. You are the two percent.

Hurry up with your nasty attitude so I can get to the nice folks out there. It’s impossible for you to make me mad.”

Then continue to smile during the whole conversation. In my recent book Negative People, I call that “reframing the jerks.”

Let Me Leave You With This About Negative People In The Workplace…

They don’t single you out for their abusive treatment. They are who they are wherever they are and with whomever.

Imagine the people who have to live in the same room with them. Would you want to be that person? Of course, the answer is no.

Lastly, let me remind you again that your job is not to change them. They will always be who they are.

Somehow, it’s the software that is running in their mind. They are programmed that way. I may be wrong. I think some of them may have a chemical imbalance that causes them to have mood swings.

Your job is to prepare mentally and condition your mind to deal with them accordingly. Once you do so, instead of being mad, you’ll just laugh at the situation and move on.

8 Comments

  1. Been There

    Good article but I think it’s important not to accept abusive behavior. Accept that the person is a jerk but do not tolerate abuse. You can set the standard for how that person will treat you without changing who they are.

    Reply
    • Rene Godefroy

      Exactly! You don’t have to accept abusive behaviors. That an intrinsic decision. You are right! You can set boundaries without changing the person.

      The reality is, we need to change instead of trying to change them. Once we change, everything change. How we respond to the behavior changes.

      Nobody is a jerk. The behavior is never the person. The first thing is to learn to isolate the behavior. If we keep trying to make the behavior the person, it will be a war. The conflicts will continue to escalate.

      Reply
  2. Lyn Daniel

    Thank you far the article. It’s been very rough cause the rattlesnake I work with tells false things about me to the boss and anyone who listens. She’s competing with me because we are both the same grade and I guess she wants to make herself look good. It’s so stressing to me: (. Thinking it’s time to change jobs. I’m so tired of the drama.

    Reply
  3. Johanna Ngomani

    I’m a Writer i’m very inspired and Motivated i would like to be Under your Wings be my Mentor..I hve been wanting to take a Step and Share what i have with the whole world but the fear was always a distraction,but after watching yours videos i was like Wow this is what i want to do for a living..Thank Rene.

    Reply
  4. dimple roy

    Thanks a ton for this article! I spoilt last night with my husband because I was upset with one of the co workers or aptly rattlesnake who is increasingly getting possessive of me talking with anybody else. And throwing tantrams on me as not talking and such stuffs . can u believe she never bothered to reply when i wished her… And i dont dven knw the reason of this erratic behsvior grrrrr … Frankly i dont care … And now i am happy to say it is as it is God bless such people …. Thanks this article just pulled me out of that vicious circle 🙂

    Reply
    • Rene Godefroy

      Dimple, you simple say, “It is what it is!” That’s how you change your perspective. The thing is, what happens is never the reason why we are upset. It’s the story we create about what happens. Once something happens, it is the past.

      All that we are feeling is the story we continue to tell ourselves in the present moment about the past. Do not try to change them. Simple accept they are who they are.

      Reply
  5. mary kitt

    Thank you, for the sound advice. I have already begun to put it into practice

    Reply
    • Rene Godefroy

      You are so welcome Mary!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

watch videos