Dealing With a Negative Nellie (or Nick!)

It seems there’s always one in the crowd. You know who I’m talking about. The glass half empty person who couldn’t find some good news if it was plastered on their face. These type of people can cause you a lot of stress — if you let them.

I’ve always tried to turn lemons into lemonade so my approach is to turn a whiner on my team into a winner. You can do that too by focusing on the strengths of the person to find out exactly what makes them tick. It may be tough for you at first to find their strengths, but it will help you move that whiner along so they can be a productive member of your team.

Find Their Strengths

Take a piece of paper and write [the person’s name] does [what they do] really well. Then write some details around it. For example: Sue does research really well. I can count on her to look at every aspect of the topic and prepare a thorough report. Try to find at least three things the person does really well and then find a fit for that strength on your team.

Turn Complaints Into Solutions

Often you can turn things around just by listening to the complaints of a pessimist on your team. They are really good at helping find gaps in a new process or procedure. (Yes, just by whining about it!) Leverage their complaints by asking what they recommend, what actions they would take, and how it could work better. Then put them to work on the solution.

Whiners, complainers, and just plain negative people aren’t any fun to have on a team and pose a risk to your team’s morale. If you can quickly turn that whiner into a winner, everyone can move forward together to achieve the team’s goals.

What do you think? Got a great solution for the negative Nellie on your team?

Denise O'Berry

Denise O’Berry — aka the Team Doc — has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. Follow her @askteamdoc.

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