by Peter Luscombe


Having dealt with in this series the need to review work habits, and ways and means to make change, let’s now focus on negativity. A less-than-positive attitude can manifest in a myriad of ways across any number of expectations in a workplace.

Consider this list with an eye for how being in a negative mind-set can spin around any, even all, of these expectations?

What does an employer want


  • Punctuality – being on time every day
  • Attendance – being at work unless you are truly ill or there is an emergency
  • Productivity – working to assure both quality and quantity measures are met
  • Initiative – starting work without being told to do so
  • Cooperation – getting along with people…boss, co-workers, customers
  • Attention to Details – following rules or directions
  • Accuracy – not making mistakes
  • Adaptability – can do more than one job task
  • Diligence – improving job performance routinely
  • Appearance – always presents in appropriate clothing and accessories
  • Open-mindedness – accepts constructive criticism
  • Honesty and Trustworthiness – doesn’t cheat, steal, or lie

Unfortunate though some may think, according to Dr Katherine Brooks:

A single bad habit is not likely to get you fired immediately, but the cumulative effect of the bad habit over time can. People might notice one bad habit, and it preps them to notice other faults or problems. Forbes

Negativity, however, can be pervasive, Feeling disengaged, or disconnected, at work can manifest as a form of negativity. If you are in a slump others will notice, may make no effort to comment, and yet make particular, perhaps adverse, assumptions about yourself and the way you conduct yourself in the workplace. This is a reality.

Equally so is this telling comment by Rick Myers, the founder and chief executive of ‘Talent Zoo’, a site for marketing, advertising, and digital professionals in an article in ‘Forbes’ that the: “most unfortunate part is that people rarely realize they have these habits.” In the same article Amy Hoover, president of ‘Talent Zoo,’ is cited to say: “Negative employees are often referred to as ‘cancer’ by upper management for good reason: they will eventually be cut out.” Ouch!?

What then are antonyms to negativity – the antidote – so to speak?

  • willingness
  • alacrity
  • confidence
  • eagerness
  • readiness
  • zeal
  • compliance
  • consent
  • disposition

This is a short list. Indeed, the ways and means to express positivity actually are more diverse and myriad than ways to express negativity. That may come as a surprise? For some it may not because they realize that being positive at work puts energy out so you get energy back, while being negative is simply a drain on all; especially yourself.


Time well spent, a mere, approximate 12 minutes, is to listen to the high-powered TED Talk by Shawn Achor: ‘The happy secret to better work.’

Warning: Achor speaks fast and is very animated. You may wish to watch more than once. If that’s the case, then he has spoken to you?

Carole Brown, founder of CareerActually,  in a post – Give yourself a 10 out of 10 – spoke of a leadership video ‘The Art of Possibility.’ She writes:

In this inspiring presentation Zander tells his students to give themselves a grade of 10 out of 10 and to write him a letter telling him how they intend to achieve this grade through the coming months. Through this surprising approach Zander steps away from a traditional teacher role and puts faith and responsibility with each individual student to stretch beyond what they have achieved and strive for something more than they thought possible.

Carole also set an activity: So, imagine for a moment what a 10 out of 10 means for you. If you think about where you are currently with your career, ask yourself what would it look and feel like if say in 3-6 months, if you had achieved a great score or success in whatever you set out to achieve. For example a project, a job transition or a critical work relationship. Make sure whatever you choose something that matters to you and is reasonably realistic but which at the same time will likely require a stretch.

Then ask yourself:

    What will it require to get to this point?

    Will your current skills suffice?

    Could you develop them further or use them differently?

    Which attitudes might you need to adjust?

    Are there self-limiting mindsets that might get in your way?

    Is it time to invite new people into your network?

Turning around a negative with a spin towards a positive means a change of mind-set. Enquiry within yourself, and of yourself, is one necessary step.

Be aware of how your behaviour impacts on others because you will surely be judged by such.

Your attitude is a form of expression of yourself. You can choose to be happy, positive and optimistic or you can choose to be pessimistic and critical with a negative outlook on your workday. The Mayo Clinic suggests that positive thinking and a good attitude help better your psychological well being and help you cope better under stressful situations at work. If you display a good attitude, your co-workers will as well, making it easier to communicate and get along in the workplace.

These are solid words of advice?