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Toxic attitudes in the workplace are contagious and can affect company morale in a negative way. Here are a few steps on dealing with toxic attitudes in the workplace.

1. Don’t Engage
Negative people feed off of an audience. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a negative tirade in the break room, don’t add fuel to their fire by engaging their negative ideas (even if you agree with them). Simply nod your head, say “that’s interesting” when they’ve finished and then go back to eating your sandwich. Your toxic coworker will sense that you’re not going to give them the attention that they want and they’ll move onto someone who will.

2. Turn the Tables
If you have a particularly attention hungry coworker who doesn’t go away after you show disinterest, turn the tables on them and be positive. Whatever situation your coworker is complaining about, find a positive aspect to it and interject that positivity into the conversation. Positivity is repellent to negative people. By turning their negative rant into a positive conversation, you’ll completely turn them off and they’ll leave you alone.

If you’re able to define yourself in your office as a positive person, negative attitudes will avoid you and you’ll be able to work in peace.

3. Give Them More Responsibility
If you have an attitude problem in your office and a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch, you may want to give them more responsibility. Now, no one is suggesting that you give them a promotion or make them department head. The goal here is to give them enough responsibility that they’ll have to produce productive ideas but not enough that they would be able to have power over anyone else.

Create a project for them that will make them accountable to everyone in the office. You could have them be the editor of the office newsletter, organize the next luncheon, select the snacks for the next meeting or decide how to organize the office supply closet.

By giving these toxic personalities a taste of accountability, you force them into a situation where they have to come up with ideas, implement them and others will judge their decisions. It’s a humbling process and in most cases will completely extinguish their negative tendencies.

4. Set Up Ground Rules
If you’re experiencing negativity in specific situations like in meetings, conference calls or brainstorming sessions, it’s important to set up ground rules before hand. Negative personalities will find roots wherever they can. Don’t create a situation where negative tendencies can go unchecked.

Make sure that before your meeting begins you lay out what rules you expect your team to follow. Typically, negative people don’t like breaking rules and by setting up positive parameters to your meeting, the toxic attendees will either stay silent or actually become product members of the group.

Toxic personalities don’t have to run rampant in your office. By understanding how to effectively manage the negative personalities on your team, you’ll be able to take back control of your work environment and your workforce’s morale.

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