Have you ever had to work on a project with a team member that is extremely negative?

Isn’t it incredibly frustrating?

It can be difficult to stay positive when you work side by side with someone who is super negative all the time.

Working with a negative person has a huge impact on your team’s work.

Negativity could slow down your team and result in a finished product that leaves something to be desired.

Plus, the negativity of one person can affect the morale of an entire group.

When you work with someone who is consistently negative, it can change your team’s dynamic. You start with one negative person and end up with ten.

When this happens on a project, the outcome is always less than ideal.

This is because there is a gap in your team’s communication. It can be hard to come to a decision when a person on your team is always putting your ideas down.

You will have to learn to deal with the team members negativity for the sake of your project and yourself.


If you want your group to be productive and successful, you will need to keep the entire group’s mood up. Happier people tend to do better work.

To ensure your group is doing their best possible work, you and the group will have to learn to deal with the negative person, or people, on your team.

The ideal situation would be to improve the morale of the negative person on your team, but sometimes that’s not possible.

In situations such as these all you can do is prevent the negative individual from affecting the outlook of the rest of the team members, most importantly yourself.

Learning to handle your team member’s negativity will help you see the situation in a different light.

You will be able to look past their negativity and redirect it to finish your team’s assignment.

Use the following nine methods to deal, when someone on your team is super negative.

1. Accept the Behavior

This rule is a good one to follow in every aspect of your life. You cannot change a person.

For a person to change they have to want to change themselves.

So that statement ultimately leaves you with two options. Two choices. Each choice will guide you in how you will deal with the negative person’s behavior.

The first option? You can allow yourself to get upset over it.

You can get mad and allow your feelings to be hurt.

Or choose the second option and accept that they are who they are.

They will continue to be exactly as they are, until they decide otherwise.

Negativity may be part of who your crabby team member is. Negativity can become a personality trait. It’s a learned behavior.

At some point your negative team member learned to see the world in this unfortunate lighting.

Some people are just unhappy.

They are always unhappy, so they are not going to stop being negative for you. You cannot change how they feel, or how the react to the world around them.

You can change how you react to their negativity, but that is the only thing you can change.

So, accept it. Decide how you will react to their negativity.

Will you be sympathetic? Or will you be obtuse to their issues?

You can be sympathetic and still intolerant of their behavior.

You cannot just ignore their issues and expect them to have no effect.

2. Monitor Your Conversations

This is a great way of blocking your team member’s negativity from affecting the rest of your group.

You can monitor your conversations with a negative team member by paying attention to their cues and reactions.

You may be able to determine what makes them feel negative emotions, or what makes them feel positive ones.

When you monitor conversation attempt to limit the amount of time you spend conversing with the negative team member.

By monitoring the conversations, you can also ensure that you are always being professional and focusing on the task at hand.

Your conversations should be professional, and free of any gossip. Gossiping about team members will only promote negativity within your group.

When you monitor your conversations, it can block negativity from spreading throughout the group. It does this in the following ways.

Monitoring a conversation can prevent the conversation from straying to negative topics.

It also prevents hurtful gossip and miscommunication.

If you keep a close eye on a negative team member’s conversation you can prevent verbal abuse from becoming a potential issue.

Listen to Patrick David discuss the spread of negativity at this link!

3. Connect with Positivity

When you’re feeling smothered by a team member’s negativity, try to stay positive.

There are a few ways you can help yourself and your team positive.

The first is to always engage with the positive members of your team.

Spend more time talking and communicating with the upbeat, happy team members than the one, or ones, that exude negativity.

People tend to mimic each other’s actions, and even attitudes.

So, if you focus on the positive members of your group, you will mimic positivity.

Second, while you’re conversing with the positive team members, commiserate with them. After all, you guys are all in it together.

Your entire team is suffering from one team member’s suffocating negativity. Bond over it and build connections.

The most important connection you should make with positivity is to yourself.

Prioritize your own happiness above everything else. Your own happiness should be the first thing you consider in every decision you make.

So, prioritize your own positivity before worrying about anyone else’s. Act in a way that makes you happy.

4. Set Your Own Boundaries

It’s important to have boundaries.

You should always be aware of what you are and are not willing to deal with. Work is no different, you have to set your own boundaries.

Consider your boundaries to be guidelines. These guidelines assist you in finding a clear answer to any circumstances that may arise.

Setting boundaries for yourself and others is the only way to respect yourself and ensure that other people will respect you. Without boundaries it is easy to allow yourself to be taken advantage of.

You should make sure that you and your team understand what you are able, and willing, to deal with. That said, you and your team should be aware of what you will not deal with.

Sit down and make a list.

Regardless of what situation you find yourself in you should be comfortable.

There should never be more than one or two deal breakers, or things you are not willing to handle in your work environment.

5. Determine the Root Cause

Sometimes a team member may have an existing problem that causes them to be negative. It could be beneficial to you and the team member, if you both sit down and talk.

Try to determine if there is a root cause for their negativity, and contemplate whether the root cause is understandable.

In some cases, the negative team member may have a legitimate reason to be negative. Life happens, and sometimes you have to work through the hard times.

When there are serious issues going on in a team members personal life, those issues may transfer over into the person’s work. This is especially true if the team member is not normally negative.

Decide for yourself whether, or not, you are sympathetic to the cause.

Is it realistic that the issue would affect their mood? Whether the issue is founded, is not your concern, unless you want it to be.

Decide if there is anything you can do to help, or if there is anything you want to do to help.

Then decide how you feel about the situation. Do you feel like the problem can be resolved? Is there a way to improve the team member’s morale?

If there is something you can do to help, you may want to consider doing it. If not, you may need to consider an alternative course of action.

Watch this slideshow to learn how to communicate with toxic coworkers!

6. Refocus Their Attention

When a team member is behaving, or talking, in a negative manner. You have a few different ways of dealing with it. One way is to refocus their attention elsewhere. You can do this in four different ways.

First, you could attempt to distract the team member. Sometimes, a person’s negativity can be all in their head.

All you need to do is get them out of it. Distracting them is a great attempt at pulling them out of their own mind and refocusing them on the task at hand. Catch them off guard by bringing up a topic that interests them.

Second, maybe you could assign them a task. Try to get them task oriented.

If they are focusing on a project, maybe they will drop the negativity, at least for a little while. A new task will give them something to work towards, a goal of some sort.

When they complete the task, they may feel successful, and react in a more positive way. They can’t focus on their own negativity, if they’re busy focusing on other things.

If neither of those two options work for you, consider some light questioning.

Ask them a few leading questions.

The questions could lead to a more positive topic, or lead to a discussion on the task at hand. Either way, you need to refocus their attention on something less negative.

Your final option is to steer things in a more positive direction. This can be done in two ways. One, you could center your conversations on positive topics. Or you could take a detour.

What do I mean by detour? Well, take the group on a fun outing. Sometimes the groups that hang out together, work best together. Take the group out to lunch or to work in a park.

Having fun is the best way to refocus a negative person’s attention on something positive! It’s hard to be in a bad mood when everyone around you is laughing, having a good time.

7. State Your Concerns

So, if you’ve followed all of the steps above, you’ve already figured out how the rest of the group feels.

Use their feelings, along with your own thoughts and feelings, to have a conversation with the negative team member.

Ultimately, one person’s negativity will drastically affect any work, plus the amount of work, your team is able to complete. It’s very important that all of the team members understand this.

Sit down and talk to the negative team member. Let them know that they need to leave the negativity at the door, it isn’t appropriate in the workplace.

Make sure that the team member understands their role in the group and what their duties are. Ensure that you include positive relations with all team members to the list of expectations.

Be honest. Let them know how the group is feeling, without pointing fingers.

Try to work out a solution with them. Maybe they can use their insight into their own life to help you come to a conclusion.

Together, you may be able to fix any existing issues.

Sometimes people don’t even realize they are acting a certain way until someone else points it out to them.

If this is the case, having a conversation may be extremely beneficial and provide great results.

If you are uncomfortable having a one on one conversation, maybe you don’t want to single them out, have a meeting.

Gather every member of the team and have an active discussion on how to be great team players.

Open the discussion up for any additional concerns, or potential problems, other team members may want to discuss.

Make it clear that negativity towards other members of the team will not be tolerated.

8. Protect Your Feelings

If you have ignored every tip so far, pay attention to this one. You have to consider your own thoughts and feelings.

The most important factor in any situation is how you feel about it. You may not be able to work with a team member who exudes so much negativity.

Be honest about how you feel. You don’t need to feel sorry for admitting that you are uncomfortable or not okay with something. Never apologize for the way you feel. Own your feelings.

Don’t worry about how the negative team member feels. Don’t even worry about how the rest of your team feels. The only thing that matters is how you feel.

If you are not comfortable with the situation, or if you see a problem, the only thing you need to consider is yourself. If that means you need to fix the problem, then fix it.

If it means you need to walk away, then walk away.

Stay positive. Don’t commiserate with the negativity.

The negative team member doesn’t have to impact your mood or work.

You will be the one that decides whether the super negative team member will affect you.

So, whatever you do, stay positive.

Learn how to overcome negativity in the workplace with these ten tips from Cal Butera!

9. Consider Supervisor Involvement

This is the last option. Nobody wants to go to their supervisor about problems with team members, but you have to be honest with yourself, and your boss.

If that team member is impacting the work of your entire team, then your team is not being efficient. Your entire team is losing work satisfaction and producing results below their own personal standards.

In situations like these, a supervisor might need to become involved. You’ve already discussed the issues with the negativity team member, so they are already aware that you feel there is a problem.

If they don’t make a change, then they are telling you that they don’t care about the problem. They are not willing to fix it.

The only way to get through to them that their behavior is not appropriate, may be to get your higher-ups involved.

Hopefully your supervisor will be sympathetic to your plight and can get the situation under control. Most companies care about their employee satisfaction rating.

It is expensive for companies to have high turnover rates and the company will have to pay more to keep employees on board.

Your supervisor will likely take action, if the situation calls for it. The team member may need to be reprimanded, assigned to a different team, or suspended. Depending on the severity of the situation.

In some cases, you may need to ask to be reassigned yourself. Sometimes your higher up will not be willing to deal with the negative team member, in that case, you need to tell your supervisor what you need.

Tell them you need to be separated from that super negative person. You may want to try the other eight tips before you do this though.

If the team member is so negative that they are being cruel or dangerous to you or any other team member, you may want to consider involving a supervisor sooner, rather than later.

If the team member is placing themselves, you, or anyone else in danger don’t worry about these tips, find the help you need.

Check out Karen Kane’s opinions on managing difficult employees in this video!


You, and your team, are the only ones that knows the extension and intricacy of your team’s situation. Use your own discretion in dealing with the negative team member.

You know the person and the situation better than anyone else, so you have the best understanding of it.

Your only obligation is to make a decision that you yourself can live with. That’s it.

So, the most important ways you can deal with a negative team member, affect how you feel about it.

They affect how the negative team member will affect you.

That’s why I recommend the following four tips, as your go-to options.

These four tips will directly affect you, and encourage your own positive outlook on work, and everything else.

The first tip is to ‘Accept the Behavior.’

This tip is important because you can’t devote all of your time trying to fix someone else.

You have to accept that they are the way they are, and you can’t change that, no matter what you do. If you don’t come to accept this, you will end up feeling disappointed and defeated.

The next tip is to ‘Set Your Own Boundaries.’

Setting boundaries protects you from being taken advantage of.

When you know where you stand, and the lines that you are not willing to cross, it is much harder for people to push you into situations you are not comfortable in.

You already have it in your mind what you are and are not willing to do.

Next tip? ‘Connect with Positivity.’ This sounds kind of vague, but basically it means to focus on the positive. Positive people, positive thoughts, positive situations. Don’t give in to negativity.

Keep yourself feeling hopeful and positive. The only way to do this when someone is constantly throwing negativity in your direction, is to connect with people and things that make you feel positive.

Finally, you need to ‘Protect Your Feelings.’ You should always protect yourself. This includes your feelings. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad.

They shouldn’t have the power to control how you feel. Really though, negative people don’t deserve the satisfaction of hurting your feelings. Don’t let them bring you down.

These four tips directly impact the way the negative team member affects you. Provided you consider them, you’ve protected yourself.

You’ve protected yourself from getting upset, being taken advantage of, and reacting to their negativity.

That’s what’s important in the situation.


If you change the context these four tips can apply to almost any area of your life. In every relationship, situation, adventure, and pretty much anything else you should always consider yourself first.

Apply these four tips to life and you will never have to worry about negativity creeping in.

How to Deal When Someone on Your Team is Super Negative

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