Statler and Waldorf at work

Last week, our neighbour rang the bell. As usual, I panicked a little. She’s one of those people who pretend to need only a minute for a tiny favour but once she’s in, that’s it ! Hours - or so it seems - of complaining. No topic is safe : the other neighbours, how expensive life has become, the sun (too warm), the rain (too wet), her grandchildren, … Basically, the world sucks and there is no hope for any improvement.

Sadly, even the workplace isn’t always a safe haven from these types. They are the colleagues who think that each decision, each new idea and each project proposition is bound to fail. However, don’t think that failure has anything to do with them ! In any case, nobody ever listens to their stellar advice. Like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet show, they love cynicism, but they don’t amuse us half as much.

Most positive folks simply avoid the nags and get on with the job at hand. During meetings however, they don’t express themselves any longer. And then there’s the middle ground, those who get swept away in the wave of negativity.
If there are too many middle-grounders, negativity starts to get the upper hand. Nothing is more detrimental to the team spirit and success.

Can you change a hard-core negative personality ? I don’t think you’ll ever turn such people into a little miss or mister sunshine. However, you can make them aware that not only “what” but also “how” you communicate can determine the vibe and the outcome of a discussion. This is a crucial issue to bring to the attention of the nay-sayer or else the tune of the team is at risk of becoming one sad song.

Justified complaints merit your attention, naturally. I am talking about the chronic complainers, the masters in taking up your time and energy. But your time and energy won’t change them : they are what they are.

That is why it is a much smarter idea to give more attention to the group that really wants to move forward. If you make sure that they are successful, even in small ways, you can persuade the middle group to forget the negativity and focus on the team objectives instead.

This strategy works best if you have set clear objectives and if the team shares a commitment on how you to reach the goal.

Confront the complainers ! Prevent their attitude from spoiling the team spirit. Conversations about the attitude of your team members aren’t always easy. How can you have a dialogue with respect, even if the subject is difficult ? How can make sure that your positive message has more impact ?
Remaining authentic and connected throughout this type of dialogue is an art that Indra Partners practices with you during the workshop “beyond feedback”.

Find more info about this workshop and about our other programs on our website. If you want to know how we can help your organisation, contact us via phone 0495.70.90.60 or via mail info@indra-partners.com.

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