Negativity Can Bring Your Project Down – Fix It


Yesterday I wrote about the issues of negativity and how it can side track, even derail, your project.

It’s not all doom and gloom, there is good news. But first you need to challenge and change the negative thinking before it takes hold.

Negativity is resistance. Resistance to change is a sign of stagnation of effort, confusion of purpose and an extension of the status quo rather than a progression of decisive change. So “nip it in the bud”.

How do you go about challenging negative thinking?

You need to challenge negative thinking head on. The next time you hear a team member asks a negative question don’t react by ignoring it or accepting the negative question (this just jumps on the trend of despair it inspires). Instead, take charge of the situation, start by asking a healthier, more positive position, one that helps you ascertain the situation and makes the recipient respond on how to improve the situation, thereby getting them to take accountability (this is a positive action).

Understand the situation

If you don’t understand the situation you can’t deal with it. So get to the bottom of the negativity. Ask why the team member is feeling the way he/she is. Then manage it accordingly.

Handle delicate matters with professionalism and respect for others. For instance, if the negativity is due to a personal matter, then it needs to be kept personal.

The best way to deal with situation is transparent, open and up front communication. Encourage the team to be constructive in their feedback, this might not flow initially, so be persistent until you get it.

Ask healthier, positive questions and get the negative team member to take accountability for their actions.

You want the negative team member to become part of the solution. Ideally they need to accept some responsibility for changing or improving the situation at hand. You might need to meet them half way to demonstrate that you want to be part of the solution and together you can change or improve the situation. Demonstrate this by asking constructive questions.

The questions share certain characteristics, these include:

  • Emphasis on helping or solving the problem 
  • Commitment to take positive action 
  • Unprejudiced tone 
  • Lack of accusations and blame
  • Emphasis on being open-ended 
  • Clarify any change
  • Maintain a positive intent

Such questions include:

  • How can we move forward?
  • How can we fix the problem? 
  • How can we help the situation?
  • How do you see us progressing?
  • How can I support the team to resolve the issue?

If you can identify the negative team member’s motives, you can often thwart their disruptive actions by actively engaging them, granting them a measure of accountability over how things turn out. Ideally this is performed in the team environment, where the experience is shared amongst the team. When individuals understand the purpose of change and the key role they play, then they are more willing to become a positive influence on the change.

Work towards this. You’ll gain more respect from the project team and this way the team will trust you and understand where you are coming from and how future negativity will be dealt with. Good luck.

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