What if one person in the group has a negative attitude that is affecting everyone else on the team?
I hear about this problem all the time and am amazed by the ability some people have to ruin days, squash ideas, and create hostility.
Call me overly optimistic, but I believe there are opportunities to be found when people behave this way. They have energy, albeit negative. They have influence, or else they would not be having an impact. And they most definitely have opinions. Nothing wrong with that. The trick is to somehow turn them into a force that helps, rather than hurts the group.
When you have naysayers bringing down your group, try one of the following strategies:
- Talk with them in private. Offer your observations about their behavior. Your goal is to make sure they know that what they say negatively affects the team. Do not shame them. You are simply providing them with feedback. They might not be aware of their behavior or the effect it is having on others. They will now.
- Offer them a chance to lead. It is easy to sit back and take shots when someone else is on the line for making a project successful. See if you can find a way to put your naysayers in charge of making something happen. Even if they can’t pull off the project, they might learn a little empathy.
- Use the influence of the rest of the group. When I run into a naysayer, my first response is to acknowledge the concern. Then I will ask the other members of the group if they see it the same way. If no one else speaks up or some go as far as countering the concerns, that will usually bring an end to the griping and negative comments.
- Listen. It is possible that the person who is complaining might have a good point. Listen and try to understand the concern. You just might learn something valuable.