One of Career Girl’s incredible writers, Danielle Bilbruck, recently wrote the article “Speak Up! Whispering Complaints Solves Nothing” in reference to the fact that rather than complaining at the water cooler, we should work with leadership to make change happen in our own offices. I agree wholeheartedly with Danielle’s idea and want to delve deeper into the root of the problem here: negativity.
If you’ve ever worked in an office that was plagued by negativity, you know what I’m talking about. It spreads like wildfire, and once it begins, it’s very hard to turn things around without a massive personnel change. I’ve never quite understood why until now. As it turns out, negativity is like a disease — and it actually affects your brain. Lee Hecht Harrision recently published “Tips to Quell Negativity on Your Team and Boost Performance” and told us something incredible about what negativity can do to our brains:
‘Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity – including viewing such material on TV – actually peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus.’ Not only that, but if you listen to a lot of negativity, you’re more likely to be negative yourself.
No wonder that one complainer in the office breeds an entire office of complainers. Our brains are physically wired to follow the leader when it comes to being negative. So how does LHH recommend we fight negativity in our offices? It’s similar to Danielle’s solution in “Speak Up”:
Identify the real problem. If the griping is wide-spread, intervention is required. Get to the heart of the team’s grumbling. Are the complaints centered on company processes, policies and management or are they based more on personalities and group dynamics?
So go ahead, speak up, and identify the problems at work. But do so in a way that emphasizes a positive, results-oriented solution rather than a constantly complaining mentality.