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  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

5 Ways You Can Maintain a Positive Mindset in a Negative Workplace


If you’re working in an environment or leading an organization that is lacking an attitude of gratitude, how can you change it?


There has been a lot of negativity these past couple of years, from the economy to global affairs, sometimes it can be hard to see the positives in situations surrounding us.

“Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which upsets the body's hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system. Chronic stress can actually decrease our lifespan.”

While we all face collective challenges and can have hard times in our own lives, it’s important to learn from the experiences and allow them to teach you more about yourself and who you are as a leader.

Hopefully, if you’ve faced big life obstacles, you’ve come out on the other side and have realized how you can make your life better in the future or discover what you can do differently moving forward.


I know, for me, I have to find a way to be grateful for what has happened to truly let it go and move on.

When we change our mindset, understand what’s important, and become positive about the things that come into our life, even hardships, it is easier to get through the really tough stuff.


Here are a few ways you can combat negativity in your workplace culture and begin cultivating an attitude of gratitude.


1. Kill people with kindness


I know what you might be thinking, “this sounds so cliche”, but it actually works! Killing others with kindness is one of the best ways to infiltrate your workplace with positivity. It sets a great example and it inspires others to follow your lead.

When working in a negative work environment, it can feel aggravating and hard to navigate.


When you kill others with kindness you’re rising above the negativity and signaling to others that you plan to remain positive despite their negative remarks. And you’re letting them know that you’re going to say positive things regardless of the situation, outcome, or general expectations.

“I'd rather put myself under the stress of speaking up rather than submitting myself to the situation and test my mettle. I strongly believe that by doing so, I expose myself and dig into my truest potential as a leader.”

Killing others with kindness, especially in a negative work environment, takes courage to break the status quo. I can assure you, though, that kindness never harms a situation. I’ve always found kindness to be pretty contagious, too. And as the leader of your organization, it’s up to you to spread the infection of affection.


2. Let it go and practice acceptance


If you’ve done all you can do to create positivity in your workplace and you still aren’t seeing the outcomes you’d like, it may be worth it to let it go.

It’s important to accept that you cannot change people. While you can inspire them by being a good example, it is up to them to really make the shift for themselves. And sometimes some people just want to be negative.

This is when it is best to let it go and keep moving forward.


If you are the negative person, an attitude of gratitude can be highly transformative. A leader who isn’t settled on the inside can translate into chaos on the outside. If you haven’t come to terms with situations that might be eating you up on the inside, it can affect the way you approach risk, make decisions, and lead others.

The best way, I’ve found, to reconcile with hard or regretful situations and move on from them is to find the lessons, gifts, or positive outcomes in the particular experience. In other words, I find something to be grateful for.

It is possible to massage a situation until the silver lining shines through and once you’re able to see the silver lining, you become more willing to let go of the negative thoughts you have surrounding it.

As you begin letting go of past mistakes, mess-ups, challenges, or unpleasant situations, you’re able to free yourself from the negativity and start leaning into the positivity. Choosing positivity can transform your own life as well as the lives of those around you, including in the workplace.


3. Protect yourself and speak up!


Sometimes one of the best ways to deal with negativity is to protect yourself from it. You can wake up each morning, put on your warrior-like protection, and choose to not be affected by the negativity.

If you have to repeat a mantra, visualize yourself wearing a body of armor, or create a reminder to not give in to the toxicity, do it! Find what works for you and create consistency with it.


Part of protecting yourself is also speaking up for yourself.

“Sometimes the only way to combat toxicity in the workplace is to find the courage to speak up.”

It can be intimidating, scary, or incredibly uncomfortable for you to speak up when you simply can no longer tolerate someone’s negative thoughts, words, or actions, but oftentimes it is very necessary to do so. (Here are some great tips for dealing with negativity in the workplace).

When you find the courage to speak up and set boundaries that protect yourself, you’re able to create a healthy space for you to thrive. And that is a win-win for everyone.


Find the good and go beyond the negative


Even when it feels like you have nothing to be grateful for, remember, you have a lot, there is still a lot of good (even with everything going on in the world) and if you stop and take a step back, there is always something to be grateful for.

When you focus on what is already going well, you amplify more good into your reality. When you focus on what’s going poorly, you get stuck in the negativity and may even perpetuate more of it.


Find the good somewhere, anywhere, and figure out how you can make more of it. Whether it’s a cool project, just one person in your office, or free snacks in the break room, focus your thoughts on how awesome the thing, person, or situation is and go all in on the positivity about it.

As a leader, remember that when it comes to your employees, a little positivity goes a long way and it can even foster better relationships with the people in your organization.

“Compassion and curiosity increase employee loyalty and trust. Research has shown that feelings of warmth and positive relationships at work have a greater say over employee loyalty than the size of their paycheck.” — Harvard Business Review

If you want to be a leader others want to follow, start with a little positivity in the workplace!

To learn more about how you can use an attitude of gratitude to transform your workplace culture, reach out to me and let’s connect.

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