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Why Does Negativity Persist, in the Workplace?
Why Does Negativity Persist, in the Workplace?

Why Does Negativity Persist, in the Workplace?

In my experience, negativity is often a symptom. Rather than treat the symptoms, the negativity being expressed, it is better to search out the crux of the problem.

Perhaps it is an individual, a ‘negative’ leadership personality, in which coaching and/or other change may be required.

More often, I find negativity stems from senior management, from the ‘leadership.’ This comes in the form of unstated expectations; no clear direction and/or strategy for the company and/or its business units; frequent changing of direction (see prior); and, first and foremost–poor communication.

Whatever the cause, until you seek it out and begin to address it (ideally transparently), the symptoms will persist.


  1. Ann R.

    Any ideas for inspiring change in communication habits among senior management, given the negativity is in fact rooted here? It’s not unusual for employees to notice negative (and positive for that matter) communication modes, but in my observations, senior management rarely wants to hear about it from underlings. What to do?

    1. JT

      Hello Ann R.

      Actually there is one really good suggestion, as timing would have it. Recently, I finished reading (and reviewed) “The Elephant in the Room,” by Diana Smith.

      The book discusses how we tend to frame people in our minds. As we move forward, reality may no longer match that frame of thought, and as things change resentment, negativity, and problems working together become more apparent. In short negativity which, as you note, is picked up by others.

      As a coach and consultant, she often works with senior leaders that realize they need to improve relationships they have with one or more colleagues, so the business can succeed. Rather than be negatively impacted by an ineffective relationship. It really is well worth a read.

      One example, I describe as the honey moon period. We first meet, we form our initial impressions, and then down the road, reality sets in and along comes various forms of negativity. We have a choice: fix the relationship (e.g. re-frame our perceptions), open ourselves to looking at how we contribute to the problem (its not just ‘them’), and the like.

      This is a far reaching topic. This is just one response to your query.


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