Tuesday, January 30, 2007

5 Ways To Neutralize The Dominantly Negative Co-Worker

It was the tale of two airlines, though in each case the planes carried the same insignia and the personnel were paid by the same corporate coffers.

During my first trip to Florida, I was on a flight where the attendants were noticeably cheerful, enjoying themselves, each other, and the passengers, and they seemed genuinely eager to please.

On my second trip, a few days later, a different crew was grouchy and nonverbally venomous.

All of those flight attendants seemed to be in a siege mentality, barricaded behind frowns, and eager to be offstage, as far as possible from the customers as they could get.

“What made such a difference?” I wondered, as I was strapped into my seat, observing the second crew as it went about its sorry business.

Then I noticed the most senior member of the staff was the most acerbic. He looked peevish, prickly, and totally out of sorts, and his mates, who were co-hosting the serving carts, took on his demeanor.

In fact, they seemed to be playing up to his dour personality, almost trying to outdo his displays of contempt for the passengers.

I caught myself wondering, “Could one person have such a negative impact on the whole team?"

And without hesitating, I knew the answer was “Yes.”

I was watching it happen.

In fact, sourpusses spoil lots of workplaces, but this time it was obvious because we were all confined, coexisting in a flying tube. There was no escaping the negativity.

Of course, it got me to thinking, what can we do to at least neutralize the impact of a negative personality, a venom spitter?

Here are five things that come to mind:

1 Ask them directly and quickly after observing their bad vibes: “Is everything all right with you?” Then, if they disclaim any problems, explain briefly “I just thought maybe you weren’t feeling so well because you seem so, uh, SERIOUS!”

2 Boldly walk up to them and say: “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!” They’ll be baffled, temporarily, but it may be enough to bring a grin to their lips.

3 Tell them a joke.

4 Say: “You look like I feel; so cut it out! Let’s put on a happy face, shall we? The show must go on!”

5 You might offer to fill in for them for a few minutes. “You look like you could use a break, a little attitude adjustment. Can I help? Want to take a few minutes to yourself?”

Each approach gives the offender feedback as to how he’s coming across to others, and he might be oblivious to it, until you bring it up.

So, don’t suffer in silence.

By taking action you’ll do everybody a favor, including those negative people!
Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 900 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered "The Gold Standard"--the foremost expert in sales development, customer service, and telephone effectiveness. Top-rated as a speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the globe and the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at: gary@customersatisfaction.com.

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