How to Prevent Negativity from Overtaking your Company’s Workplace

by Aug 27, 2019

This guest post is written by Alex Sal.
Alex Sal is the managing editor of, a free resource for side hustle ideas and support for entrepreneurs.

It takes many days of labor to build a company, turning passion and ambition into life. When the time finally arrives, you begin your quest of building a team. A positive, upbeat team can quickly become a more productive one, with employees growing and learning together. On the other hand, toxic employees and negativity can create an almost suffocating void around the workplace. 

As much as we hate to admit it, negativity is contagious, it rubs onto people, and before you know it, you have more people complaining instead of collaborating. In this post, we will be providing you a detailed guide on how to prevent negativity from taking over your company’s office culture

Why Negativity is so Harmful for Morale (and Productivity)

When employees are motivated and driven, they are more likely to succeed and produce better work. Harboring negativity and toxicity can induce an air of mistrust that alters the way teams work and think about each other. Employees may start to question the management, slowly moving away from the company’s mission. Learning how harmful negative behavior is imperative if you want to put it to an end. 

Here’s how toxicity can damage morale and productivity:

Slumps Teamwork

A positive team can do inspiring things. On the other hand, negative can fuel gossip and mistrust, which can lead to misunderstandings and decreased collaboration. To work together, your team needs to trust each other. Being bullied or ridiculed can cause some of your best employees to walk out the door. 

Lack of Motivation

Feeling underappreciated by the management or spending too much time around a toxic employee can cause folks to lose motivation. Employees may begin to lose interest in the company or may even start to question the company’s mission. This eventually causes teams to drift apart, potentially resulting in employee turnover, costing company revenue.  

Creates a Communication Gap

If there were a serious problem in the workplace, you would want your employees to confine into you or the management. Negativity can result in communication problems as team members may no longer wish to speak to each other. This can even go as far as to disregarding rules and valid input, putting the entire company’s productivity at risk while damaging morale.  

How to Spot Negativity in the Workplace

To curtail negativity, you should be able to identify it. Here are a few indicators:

Office Drama

There’s nothing wrong with difference of opinion, but it leads to office drama every day, you’ve got to do something. Your workplace shouldn’t feel like going to high school. Your workplace is a professional environment; there’s no room for queen bees and bullies

Constant Dissatisfaction

It’s almost enthralling to walk into a room with great energy. It’s the opposite when everybody is in a dull mood. Hunched shoulders, refusal to go the extra mile and not being committed to deadlines are just a few indicators of a hostile environment. Perhaps it’s time you examine how you have been feeling lately as well. Nobody feels chirpy all day, but passive aggression and constantly complaining are all signs of toxicity.


Negativity can penetrate into the heart of the company resulting in missed deadlines, unprofessionalism, poor morale, and so on. If everything appears to be falling apart, this is definitely your cue to step in and take action.  

Tactics for Handling Negativity in the Workplace

Once it’s clear that negativity has permeated the walls of your office, it’s time to devise a course of action. The process is as simple as it can get – talk. Speak to your employees. Try to identify what really went wrong to navigate the exact source of their unhappiness. 

Perhaps it’s a colleague who’s constantly bringing a bad attitude to the table or maybe it’s the manager who threatened everybody to be in line. These are all causes of concern, and if trouble is brewing, you need to know.  

It’s also possible for employees to be unhappy because of a decision the organization made. Change in policies, appraisals, and compensations can spark negativity. Address the issues head-on or better yet, hire someone to look at matters more objectively. After all, you don’t want matters to escalate.

If not addressed appropriately, workplace negativity can go as far as to affect customer/client relationship. Here are a few ways to prevent office politics from spiraling out of control.

Fair Treatment 

Adults appreciate being treated with fairness and honesty. Set up a company handbook and publicize policies. Employees need to know that they are being treated with respect. Show consistency and hopefully, they will reciprocate. 

Be the Change 

As Gandhi’s famous quote suggests, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” As a leader, you have the power to influence the members of your team. They look up to you and will follow suite. Be a problem solver, listen to your employees, show integrity and attract diverse talent. Encourage folks to voice out their problems and clear the air before further misunderstandings take place. 

Provide Plenty of Opportunities to Express Opinions 

Employees need reassurance. They need to know that they’re valued and that their opinions matter. Hold team meeting and allow people to voice their opinions. Better yet, use your gut instinct and check on employees to make sure they are on the right track. 

Talk about dress codes, policy changes, overtime hours – you’d be surprised to know how even the little things matter. Be proactive and offer a timely response to questions and concerns. 

Hire the Right Way

Performance isn’t everything. When hiring employees, check to see if they have a track record of working well with teams. An all-star performer won’t do you any good. Ask them a series of questions to see how they would respond to conflict. If they are smart enough to work way or act calmly, you have yourself a winner. 




Incivility, bullying, and harassment occur because the culture allows them to. Before starting inclusivity initiatives, you’ve got to stop bad behavior. Take this assessment to determine if your workplace fosters a positive culture.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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