“I’m negative”

negative_graphic256Are you suffering from a severe case of negativity? Are you a “glass half empty” kinda person? Do people generally tell you that you are a total “buzz-kill” to be around? If the answer to those questions is “yes,” then this month is for you. And unlike many past dysfunctions we’ve taken on, negativity is a different type of dysfunction for many reasons. First, with most traditional workplace dysfunctions, the problem is often someone else (my boss, my coworker, my company, etc…). With negativity, the problem lies squarely in the mirror. Second, no one is immune from this particular dysfunction. Whether it’s getting passed over for a promotion or the general feeling that nothing we do is ever “good enough,” we all go through bouts of negativity. The distinction between healthy levels of negativity and dysfunctional levels of negativity is directly tied to the length in which you stay stuck in that nasty place. Do you pull yourself out quickly or do you make yourself comfortable and hang out in the land of discontent for months on end? Visiting for a night is fine. Staying for an extended period is catastrophic.

Negativity kills

You may be saying to yourself, “Brandon, you make this out to be such a big deal. Is this really all that bad? After all, some people view my negativity as a good thing. They see me as a realist.” If that’s you, here’s my answer for you: you’re kidding yourself. Negativity kills. It kills relationships with direct reports, it kills relationships with coworkers, it kills relationships with the boss and most importantly, it kills relationships at home (spouse and children). But we kid ourselves and don’t see negativity for what it is. Individuals that bring persistently high levels of negativity to their job and life often veil it under the guise of being a “critical thinker.” While focused doses of “critical” can be necessary and productive, unbridled criticism and negativity breeds disaster. Don’t believe me? Stay tuned. I’m bringin’ the research. From Bob Sutton at Stanford and his research on effective / ineffective managers, to the folks at the Gottman Institute studying marriage, negativity comes with heavy costs.

On tap for this month

This month we will be tackling negativity. Amongst others, some of our topics will include:

  • Some of the greatest triggers of negativity in our lives (common negativity-producing occupations, scenarios, and events)
  • Signs your negativity has tipped from normal levels to highly destructive / nuclear
  • Ways to counter negativity at work
  • Ways to counter negativity at home


At the end of the month, I’ve got two goals for each of us (myself included):

  1. For each of us to find ways to manage our negativity more effectively.
  2. For each of us to come out feeling more thankful of what we have than when we started the month. Not a bad tie into November 22 (Thanksgiving) if I do say so myself.

Before we get started, you’ll need the following materials: a glass half filled with water, a mirror, and a picture of the one’s you love. Once you’ve got ‘em, you’re ready to begin. Further instructions on their way…


A note from Brandon
I need your help. I'm on a mission to eliminate workplace dysfunction, but I can't do it alone. Join me and together we can make work what it was meant to be - a place of joy and fulfillment. Simply sign up today and weekly I'll provide you the very best tips and strategies on how you can fight dysfunction at work and create the workplace you've always wanted. Subscribe Now »

You may also like:

2 replies
  1. Laura Cheryl Mitchell says:


    I have been abused verbally and physically all my life. However, I have tried for decades to get on my feet. I have four college degrees, and an IQ of 150. I worked as a journalist for years and did a lot of good helping people like me who were abused. I wrote articles that ended up placing a 911 system on Guam in the 90s, and also wrote articles that helped special needs kids who were being abused and raped in Guam’s detention facility. I came back stateside and live in Macon Georgia. I went back to school and got another degree in Education and taught special needs children in high school for 5 years. In 2005 we got a new principal who abused me verbally and attacked me all the time because I was a Christian and helped my students all the time. During 2008, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and my principal attacked me because I told a fellow teacher that was a friend about it and I was worried I was gonna die. The princpal overheard my conversation and sent me negative emails and wrote me up. She never once asked me about my health or seemed to care. Then the next year she attacked me in several ways and threatened me to make me leave. I tried to file a complaint and they covered it all up – she forced me to resign and I had perfect evaluation scores. I was a wonderful teacher – but this woman was so abusive. Well I resigned after 3 years of her abuse and can not find a job anywhere. I lost my home and am living in poverty now. I got another degree in IT project Management with a 4.0 and still can not find a job. I came back to Georgia last month after travelng to 2 other states over the last year to find a job. I found out they got rid of the principal finally because she had abused so many others. I went to apply for a job back at the school district and they told me I was not eligble for re-hire. I asked why – and they would not tell me. I looked in my file and the only negative thing in there was a letter full of lies by my former principal. I have an appontment with the new superintendent this next week to discuss the matter. I would appreciate any help you can give me to try and get over all this abuse. My life has fallen apart because of all this and I have so much to give but can’t find a job anywhere and it is lowering my self-esteem to nothing. Please help me if you can.


  2. Brandon Smith says:

    This story sounds horrible. Three things immediately come to mind on how you can move through this.
    1. Keep your friends and family close – Consistently the most effective way to find a job in such a tough economy is by word of mouth. Get your friends, family and past coworkers to see what they can find for you. People trust the references of employees they value. That’s your best strategy.
    2. Don’t go back to the well – avoid abusive environments. I would encourage you to take a mental inventory of the signs of abuse that you’ve encountered in your career and find ways to detect those early. A good strategy is try to track down all of your favorite coworkers over your career. If they are happy where they currently work, that’s probably a sign that those workplaces share similar values to you and would be good places to target your search.
    3. Keep in touch – Feel free to shoot me an e-mail directly. Here’s my e-mail address: brandon[at]theworkplacetherapist.com. I’m would be happy to chat with you directly over the phone.

    Hang in there and remind yourself of the good work you do!


What do YOU think?

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *