How to complain less and feel better at work

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Negative colleagues can be a real drag in the office. Not only can they hurt productivity and morale, their attitudes are contagious.

But what if that bad attitude is coming from you?

“When you come into work with a negative attitude it is going to affect others around you,” said Brandon Smith, a career coach who focuses on workplace dysfunction. “There is a high probability they will pick up that same negative vibe and match it.”

Keep the complaining in check

Reflect on how much of your own conversations start or involve you complaining. If it’s a common occurrence, be intentional about balancing it out with more positive comments.

“People remember what you say and your attitude lingers,” said Kerry Hannon, author of “Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness.”

Adding a “but” and then a positive thought to a negative comment can help shift you into a better frame of mind, recommended Jon Gordon, author of “The Power of Positive Leadership.” For instance: It’s raining and I was really hoping for a nice commute, but my lawn did need to be watered.

And when negative talk is happening around you, resist the urge to jump in and participate.

Offer solutions

Some complaining in the office is natural — in fact, it can help build camaraderie in proper doses.

But you can make it more productive by instituting a no-complaining-without-offering-a solution rule, recommended Gordon.

“If you are complaining you aren’t leading. You need to focus on solutions and the positive instead of the negative.”

Have something to look forward to

Having a daily ritual that you enjoy can help pull you out of a funk. And it doesn’t have to be extravagant: a cup of coffee, reading your favorite blog or taking a quick walk.

“Add something to your day you look forward to,” said Hannon.

Find a new challenge

Getting stuck in a rut can dampen your mood, so strive to consistently challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone.

Raise your hand to take on a new assignment, look for training classes to take or sign up to lead a volunteer project.

“Even if it’s scary, try and do it,” said Hannon. “Once we get out of our comfort zone, the adrenaline shoots up and you don’t have time to complain about work.”

Put positivity on your calendar

We too often focus on the bad things going on and overlook the positives.

“We are born to be worrywarts,” said Joe Robinson, a workplace balance expert. To help combat that, he suggested listing three things that went well that day before going to bed. They don’t have to be major events: you saw a pretty sunset, told a funny joke, got a compliment from your boss or snagged a seat on the train.

“This crowds out the negative and populates your brain with positive things, which leads to a more positive outlook.” said Robinson.

Spreading positivity to others also goes a long way.

Smith advises his clients to set a calendar reminder to repeat every Friday morning to remind them to say something positive to a co-worker that week.

Find an outside passion

There will be days and even weeks when work is going to be bad, which is why you need a hobby or passion outside of work to balance it out.

“It gives you something to look forward to,” said Robinson. “Yes, you had a bad week, but you know you are going to go out and have fun.”

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