I have watched one negative person bring a team’s productivity down 90%! I know that sounds dramatic but this person’s negativity actually dropped sales in one division from $100 million down to $10 million within 2 years!!
Think of negative talk as a virus that can kill all productivity. Here are some things as a leader you can do to stop negative talk:
1. Ask the negative person ONLY questions that can be answered positively. I find most negative people actually want two things- one is to connect with others. In their mind the negative talk is just conversation and they don’t even see it as negative. As you ask them questions that can only be answered positively, they begin to build new brain pathways to “conversation”.
2. Call them out on the negative chatter so they need to be accountable. For example saying, “If you want to be seen as proactive, how does saying_______ align with that?” Begin to educate them on how they are coming off. Notice I started with a positive assumption which was that they want to be seen as proactive.
3. Play the Devil’s Advocate. When they bring up a negative point, ask them to turn it around and see it from another perspective.
4. Give them responsibility that allows them to be visible to others in a POSITIVE way. The second thing most negative chatter people are craving is POWER. They want to be viewed as knowing things and seen as informative. They feel that sharing the negative view gives them power. You just need to feed that need for power in a positive way and show them how to get it without being negative.
The worst thing you can do with negative chatter is to allow it to continue. This reinforces to your team that negative chatter is acceptable and even rewarded. Make sure you stop it today!
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