How to Handle a Pessimist in the Workplace
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How to Handle a Pessimist in the Workplace

True, you can always turn a blind eye and a deaf ear towards pessimism. But the truth is that is does not always solve the problem, especially if that pessimist happens to be a team member who plays a crucial part in making a project a huge success or a miserable failure. That is why knowing how to handle a pessimist at the workplace is important.

Pessimism is one of the most common negative attitudes at the workplace that many people have to deal with. Staying positive at work while dealing with negative people, can be difficult. You may have encountered a situation where you hear a colleague tell you something like "That's almost impossible", or "Why don't you save a lot of heartache and just give up now?". A good definition of a pessimist was given by Winston Churchill: "A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity". Pessimistic people always look on the negative side, and when encountered with a problem, thinks that the worst is going to happen.

True, you can always turn a blind eye and a deaf ear towards pessimism, but the truth is that is does not always solve the problem. If that pessimist happens to be a team member who plays a crucial part in making a project a huge success or a miserable failure, knowing how to handle a pessimist at the workplace is important.

Here are a few useful things that can help you deal with pessimism in the workplace:

  • Some pessimists think that they have better judgment than others and can foresee what other people cannot. They usually see every problem as unsolvable. Therefore avoid arguing with them, and avoid being defensive. This is not the proper way of dealing with negative people, and you will not accomplish anything by doing so. Sometimes, they will always come out with all sorts of fear and problems that are not based on fact. What you need to do is identify and understand the source of their negativity and disagreement.
  • Do not take it personally. Avoid thinking or saying things such as "He's just saying that because he does not like me." Acting like that will only distract you from achieving your goal.
  • Pessimists like to point out the problem while refusing to look for a way to overcome it. For example, your team member might say, "This is impossible. The director is never going to agree to this." When you get feedback like this, the important thing is not to let that statement bring down the momentum and eventually lead the situation to a dead end. Instead, you may counter that statement with something like, "Okay,so let's see what can we do to improve and convince him to agree" or "Maybe he will agree, if we can......" (suggest what the team can do better for improvement). You can also ask that particular team member to give his own idea to solve the problem by asking "Maybe you have suggestions for improvement that can help us get the director's approval?"
  • Do not consider pessimism as only destructive. In fact, a negative input from your co-worker can actually encourage you to be more productive, and if pessimism occurs in a team discussion, it can turn the discussion into a dynamic session that generates more great ideas and opinion.

It is natural to feel angry or demoralized when your idea is not appreciated or completely rejected. However, you must never let that feeling distract you from achieving your goal. Eradicating pessimism at the workplace is an insurmountable task. It is impossible to do that. Some people just have that in their character - due to many different reasons - and your focus is not to change that character. Rather, the key to handle negative attitudes in the workplace is to learn how to confront and handle the situation, and to do so intelligently.

Related keywords: thank you message to boss
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