Any job has its ups and downs meaning that avoiding negativity in the workplace altogether is next to impossible. The manager’s role is to motivate their team, to assist them in navigating the inevitable corporate roller coaster and to respond to negativity when they are overwhelmed or frustrated.
However, this role is no small feat and dealing with negativity in the workplace can be difficult for managers. For this reason, we’ve put together some tips to help you successfully respond to team members who are being negative and how to turn a tough moment into a learning opportunity.
Tip 1: listen, don't fight
When faced with someone else’s frustration, people’s natural response is typically to try and cheer them up. The problem with this is that this inherent tactic can come across as rather aggressive thus often producing the opposite of the desired results.
Normally, when a person’s feeling out of sorts the last thing they want is to argue or debate their standpoint with a superior. They need to feel that their complaint has been heard, not to be reminded of other positive aspects of a situation that are most likely irrelevant in the moment. The best thing a manager can do as a first response is simply to listen to what the person has to say.
Tip 2: common ground and validation
Once you are confident that the employee has had the chance to properly voice their concerns, you can being to validate their experience and sympathize with them. This does not mean that you must agree with all the specifics of the complaint but instead that you demonstrate an understanding of their point of view and a willingness to remediate the situation to the best of your managerial abilities. During this process, try to identify concerns raised with which you can relate and communicate this to them.
Below are some good examples of responses to give employees in this type of situation:
- “I can see how that is frustrating”
- “I can understand why you would have reacted this way”
- “Thank you for voicing your frustration regarding X issue”
- “Your concerns are valid”
This type of statement creates a safe space where team members can begin to feel that their experience is no less legitimate than anyone else’s. Additionally, it demonstrates your desire for them to be a part of the solution and that they are not alone but rather hold an important place within their team.
Tip 3: reinforcing positivity
When a person feels heard and supported they can come up with positive solutions suggestions on their own. Therefore, throughout this process, it is the manager’s duty to listen carefully for any positive points mentioned by the dissatisfied team member and explicitly show them that they support them.
A great manager who does the work and is available for their team creates a united workplace where employees feel supported. In turn, this allows them to see the positive parts of the job more easily and keeps frustration and dissatisfaction at bay.
Handling negative feedback and people isn’t easy or pleasant. Still, it should never be avoided, ignored, or pushed aside and it is absolutely crucial that you know how to respond to it properly.