How to Politely Avoid a Negative Coworker

how to avoid a negative coworker

We all have them – the nagging, always complaining, never satisfied Negative Nancy coworker. You try to avoid her but she consistently comes to you to express her dissatisfaction within the company and you’re left emotionally drained and feeling less than inspired.  Now what?

You can do two things: join the conversation, or ignore it. The latter seems the most logical but the former is easier. The truth of the matter is you’re going to deal with negative people at work, outside of work, at school, and in your family at some point. Eventually making excuses to avoid said person is going to get old and she might catch on. Then you’ll be forced to confront the inevitable fact that you’re just not that into her.

Don’t engage

You don’t have to completely ignore or avoid your negative coworker in order to not engage with her. If she starts going off on one of her negative tangents, simply change the subject and focus on more positive things.

Think about why negative people are so… negative. They subconsciously look for reasons to be miserable. But if you quickly redirect the conversation in a more positive direction it will almost be embarrassing for them to go back to the negative chatter they started with.

When you say things that elicit a negative response, the negative person will keep on keepin’ on. Even a simple “yeah”, “I know”, or “that’s rough” is all she needs to keep the negative fuel burning. You may not mean to come across like you agree with the person, but Negative Nancy takes your neutral response as an invitation to continue her rant, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle.

Be honest

Honesty is always the best policy. If the catty and petty gossip is getting to you, speak up.

If you’re working in a mature, professional, work environment, no one is going to fault you for not wanting to get involved in company politics. You simply tell the people you’re with you don’t feel comfortable talking about this or that.

When you speak about how the conversation makes you feel versus expressing an opposing opinion, you will still have the respect of your coworker(s) and you’ll be able to politely avoid the negativity.

Gossip will inevitably find its way into the workplace, but the question is will you feed into it?

Stay in a group

Ever heard of the expression, power in numbers? Well, that works as a way to politely avoid a negative coworker too.

When you’re in a group of positive people, it’s very unlikely that the black sheep of the bunch will speak out and spread her negativity to everyone else. People are more apt to confide in a one-on-one scenario versus a large group. Make an effort to spend time with your upbeat coworkers and you should be in the clear.

Be the happiest person you know

When all else fails, be so happy that people feel it when you walk in the room. Misery loves company so if you’re not willing to be miserable, miserable people won’t seek you out as an audience. Surround yourself with loving, caring, supportive people at work. They might turn out to be your best friends or mentors that help you reach your professional goals.

Being happy makes you stand out in the crowd. People want to be around people who uplift them and inspire them to be the best versions of themselves. In the words of social media guru, Gary Vee, “If you lack optimism, it’s game over”. Don’t let the negativity get the best of you. 

Be happy, be positive, be optimistic and your career will thrive… and you’ll avoid a few negative coworkers along the way.

What is your secret for politely avoiding a negative coworker? Tell us in the comments.

Written by: Brittany Johnston (24 Seven Marketing)