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How to Politely Avoid a Negative Coworker

Avoid a negative coworker

We all have them - the nagging, always complaining, never satisfied negative coworker. You try to avoid them, but they consistently come to you to express their dissatisfaction with their role or the company, and you're left emotionally drained and feeling less than inspired. You’re faced with two options, to either join the conversation or ignore it, and we all know how challenging these conversations can be to avoid. While having to deal with negative people in and outside the workplace is a fact of life, our goal at  24 Seven is to help you better navigate your professional life, with helpful tools and resources to keep you one step ahead. . With that in mind, we're sharing key insights from our recruitment teams to ensure you’re ready to assess, act, and respond when an uncomfortable work situation arises. 

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Don't engage the negative coworker

To begin, you don't have to completely ignore or avoid all contact with your negative coworker. If they start going off on one of their 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. If you quickly redirect to a positive topic it’s much more difficult to return to the negative chatter they started with, but if you say things that elicit a negative response, even a simple “yeah” or “that’s rough,” the negative person gains momentum. You may not mean to come across like you agree with the person, but your neutral response becomes an invitation to continue the 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.” Simply state that you don’t feel comfortable with the conversation, or you “don’t want to get into that.” However seriously or casually you express your preference to avoid those topics, you’ll maintain the respect of your coworker(s) and be able to politely avoid the negativity. If anyone reacts badly, it will be clear it’s their problem, not yours. Gossip will inevitably find its way into the workplace, but the question is will you feed into it?

Avoiding negative coworkers virtually

Unfortunately negative coworkers can still find a way to get to you in a remote work environment. When working from home it's easy to feel isolated, and a negative coworker might make it feel worse. Remember, that it’s just as important to set digital boundaries as physical ones. If you're feeling stressed or anxious, we recommend reaching out to your more positive coworkers for support. Connect with colleagues regularly throughout the day, even if it’s just for a quick chat via instant message to keep your spirits up.

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 become 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. 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. 

​Be the happiest person you know

24 Seven connects talented freelancers and full-time talent with notable companies in the digital, marketing, and creative industries. If you're ready for a change of scene, check out our open jobs and learn how working with a recruitment agency can help you grow your career.