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Dealing with the Five Most Negative Types of Coworkers

Here are some of the most common types of negative workplace personalities

I used to work with a colleague on the opposite coast, so her day started three hours before mine. And, so, it was quite typical to check my voicemail first thing in the morning and hear an angry voice: “Lea, it’s Petra. Call me as soon as you get in.” Just listening her messages was exhausting, and the return phone calls were equally draining. Not a fun way to start the day.

In my entire career, she was the most difficult person with whom I’ve ever worked. You see, Petra was incredibly negative. Every conversation was full of drama: She’d ramble on about a bunch of issues she was having with a partner company, for example, then tell me I’d better get them straightened out. In the end, not only did I have to put out fires with the partner, I also had to fight battles on my own team to get anything done. (It’s comical to note that I outranked Petra—and that she had created nearly all of the problems!)

Now, I’m sure there’s some deep and weighty scientific reason why negative people are such energy sucks. But all I know is, they just are. And when you’re surrounded by them, it’s certainly a challenge, as both a manager and a colleague. That said, you can’t control other people; the only thing you can control is the way you choose to respond to them. With that in mind, I like to think of workplace negativity as an opportunity to hone self-advocacy, assertiveness and boundary skills. (Petra sure taught me how to do that!)

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