How to Stop Being Negative at Work (With Strategies)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 5, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Keeping a positive attitude and avoiding negativity can help you find both personal and professional success. Integrating more positivity into your life is a valuable skill but takes practice and discipline. Learning how to stop being negative can help you develop healthy relationships and positively impact your job or life situation. In this article, we explain why workplace positivity is important, explore how to stop being negative at work, and offer some strategies for developing a more positive attitude and reducing negativity.

Why is workplace positivity important?

Reducing your negativity in the workplace can help you increase workplace positivity and affect your career. Positive people often have a greater chance of securing jobs, as hiring managers seek to employ individuals who are interested in increasing workplace productivity and cooperation. Positivity helps foster strong teamwork skills, as an individual member's attitude can affect the entire team's morale. Fostering a positive work environment by reducing negativity can help you improve creativity, teamwork, and company loyalty. Working on developing a more positive attitude can help you improve your career prospects and secure gainful employment.

Related: How to Maintain a Positive Attitude at Work and Home

How to stop being negative at work

Here are some steps you can take to learn how to stop being negative at work:

1. Understand your triggers

The first step in reducing negative feelings or reactions at work is understanding and recognizing the events that might trigger your negativity. For example, if you notice your frustration typically occurs when receiving feedback or being assigned specific tasks, this can help you better understand how to combat these feelings. You can keep a mood journal to log your feelings and review the events that might have triggered you to react negatively. This can help you develop a deeper understanding of the causes of your negativity.

Related: What Is Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace? (With Helpful Tips)

2. Make changes to reduce your triggers

Once you understand the events or causes of your negativity, you can make changes to reduce your triggers or combat your negative feelings towards them. For example, if receiving feedback triggers your negative thoughts, you can consider working on finding the positive aspects of criticism instead of focusing on the negative parts of the interaction. Instead, consider finding the constructive aspects of the feedback and use the recommendations to improve your work and grow professionally.

Related: How to Handle Criticism in the Workplace

3. Try new strategies

There are many strategies you can use to reduce your negativity and improve your positive thoughts. Depending on the events that prompt your negativity, you can consider implementing a variety of habits that may help you increase your workplace positivity. Engaging in positive thinking can help you develop your ability to combat triggers and garner better outcomes. You can try new strategies until you find one that works for you, giving each a sufficient opportunity to work. Attempting new ways of performing tasks can improve your creativity and self-esteem, which can help you remain positive.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Be a Positive Thinker

4. Keep yourself accountable

It's important to continue monitoring your thoughts to reevaluate any events that trigger negative moods. Actively try to identify any negative thoughts and attempt to stop them from overtaking your mindset. Consider the positive aspects of the events that created the negative thoughts and focus on these instead. If you used a mood journal to help identify your triggers, you can continue to log your moods to identify events or scenarios that cause both negative and positive reactions. Try to decrease the events that facilitate negativity and increase those that provide you with positivity.

Related: How to Find an Accountability Partner to Reach Your Goals

Strategies to increase workplace positivity

Here are some habits you can develop to help you decrease your negativity:

Focus on positivity and gratitude

You can increase your positivity and change your overall mindset by talking more positively about yourself, your colleagues, and your work activities. It's helpful to avoid any workplace gossip and excuse yourself if colleagues are speaking negatively about their managers or workload. You can improve your mood by consciously acknowledging the positive aspects of your life and considering the people who support and encourage you in your personal and professional endeavours.

Thinking of what you're grateful for can also inspire positive thoughts by helping you focus on aspects that bring you happiness. Consider taking time each morning to list five items for which you're grateful in your life to begin your day with a more positive perspective.

Read more: How to Practice Gratitude While Working Remotely

Maintain your physical health

A healthy body can contribute to a healthy mindset, as exercising can positively impact your mood and help you control negative thoughts. This includes having a balanced diet and eating appropriate portion sizes to help you stay physically healthy. Further, it's important to get the appropriate amount of sleep to gain the energy you require to stay positive. Fatigue and exhaustion from lack of sleep can cause irritability, which may cause negativity.

Keeping good posture is also likely to influence your mood, so try to keep your back straight and chin up throughout your workday to stay strong-minded and positive. Good posture can also help you develop confidence and keep you from being negative at work.

Related: How to Use Interview Body Language to Project Confidence

Reduce your media intake

Unless remaining updated on current events is part of your job, watching the news constantly can impact your positivity. As news reports have a natural inclination toward the negative to gain more of the audience's attention, reducing your intake can help improve your mood. Further, social media encourages users to compare their life to the lives of others, which may make it difficult to stay positive. Consider taking a break from social media and focusing more on the positive aspects of your life.

Change your mindset

Taking steps to change your mindset can help you develop your ability to combat negativity. You can use meditation to help you improve your mood and productivity, which can help you develop a more positive outlook. There are many apps you can use to guide you through meditation in timeframes as short as five to 15 minutes. Taking regular breaks and focusing on being positive and productive at work can also help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. It's important to get enough rest at home to improve your mental energy, ensuring you feel productive, both personally and professionally.

Avoid assuming what other people are thinking to help you change your mindset and increase positive thoughts. Making assumptions regarding other people's thoughts is likely to cause a misunderstanding. Be straightforward and ask for clarification when needed to keep you in a positive mood and reduce the likelihood of misinterpreting someone's actions.

Avoid negativity

Complaining can lead to developing thinking habits that encourage further complaining, which can reduce your ability to stay positive and can allow negative thoughts to develop. While it's tempting to participate in negative thoughts and gossip if you're around negative colleagues, consider surrounding yourself only with those who have a positive influence on your mood. Avoid negativity to help you improve your mood and make it easier to focus on positive thoughts.

Try something new

Feeling joy in your personal life can have a positive influence on your career. Consider trying a new hobby, such as a craft or sport, to manage your stress and put you in a more positive mood. Laughing regularly can improve productivity by lowering stress and anxiety levels, and also improve your mood and self-esteem. Consider hosting a game or trivia night with your friends and family to increase your opportunities to laugh and enjoy yourself.

Thinking positive thoughts is helpful, but openly expressing them can increase the morale of those around you and help you build an image of an optimistic person. Try telling a colleague that you appreciate their work to help create a happier workplace atmosphere. You can also offer to help others to improve your mood by fostering positive interactions with others.

Focus on the future

Being worried about the future or dwelling on the past can reduce your positivity. Try to focus on the current moment and consider only the elements or activities over which you have control. Try forgiving yourself for mistakes you've made in the past by acknowledging your errors and learning from these experiences. This can help you move past the errors you've made and develop habits of positive thinking.

Focus on the future by setting professional goals and working toward achieving them to help you maintain optimism and positivity. This allows you to maintain perspective when faced with professional challenges and helps you focus on the advancement towards your goals.

Related: Guide on How to Learn from Mistakes (Importance and Tips)

Set boundaries

Although it's not ideal to decline specific directives from your employer, it's important to learn how to set boundaries with friends and coworkers. Learn how to say no to requests you don't have time to fulfil, those that you don't enjoy, or tasks that might influence your mood negatively. It's also important to avoid getting too involved in other people's lives. Worrying about other people's problems can cause you to become too emotionally charged and can lead to negative thoughts. Set boundaries and prioritize keeping them to increase your positive outlook.

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