Dealing with the office Eeyore

by John J. Williams

Lisa Earle McLeod* has advice for countering the relentlessly negative coworker who can put a damper on the most innovative and exciting project.

You are in a good mood.

Lots of meetings on the agenda, work that you are (usually) excited about, and even an iced latte.

Then go into Eeyore’s office – shutting down ideas, complaining endlessly, and sucking the energy out of the room.

These so-called party-poopers can have a draining effect on even the most optimistic, goal-oriented people.Dealing with the office Eeyore

When working to create a healthy, positive work environment, it can be exhausting to run into ever-present negativity.

If someone is constantly negative, you probably won’t change their attitude with a few suggestions (wrong, I know).

However, you can teach these people how to treat you, and most importantly, you can protect your emotions to prevent their negativity from entering your soul.

Here are four ways to manage an Eeyore office:

This is a pure numbers strategy.

The more time on your calendar you spend on conversations that drag you down, the more your entire day (or life) will begin to feel the effects.

Stimulate your mind by breaking through negativity and adding workouts, time to relax, and conversations that inspire you right after the negative experience.

One of the most powerful techniques I’ve learned about dealing with negative people comes from my cousin’s Aikido martial arts class.

In Aikido, you are taught not to push back when someone attacks you immediately.

Instead, you direct their energy elsewhere.

Think guide versus push.

With a constantly negative person, redirecting their energies can mean being referred to a resource, such as their manager or HR.

It may also suggest that they take action to resolve the negativity they are expressing.

In many cases, they will correctly pinpoint the subtext of “I’m not going to join your pity party.”

You teach people how to interact with you by showing them what you will and will not tolerate.

I got this advice early in my career when I was giving major seminars almost every week.

At the time, I was overly obsessed with the (usually small) number of people sitting in the back of the room, arms crossed, refusing to participate.

I assumed it was about me or their distaste for the content.

I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of my brainpower trying to win them over.

This kept me from fully standing up for the excited people.

Playing to the top of the room reverses this; leaning against the excited people will overtake the middle, and then the Eeyores won’t dominate.

The ‘play to the top of the room’ advice applies to almost every facet of life; point yourself to where the positive energy is.

This one can be a challenge.

If you proactively try to be positive, even an unsolicited eye roll can feel like a personal insult.

In most cases, it isn’t – you have no idea what’s happening beneath the surface.

Some people have difficult childhoods and circumstances or are faced with immeasurable hardships that they will never discuss in the workplace.

Ultimately, we only have control over our behavior.

You don’t have to condemn yourself to decades of fighting off constant negativity.

Instead, recognize that you are in a position of power.

*Lisa Earle McLeod is the leading expert best known for creating the popular Noble Purpose business concept. She is the author of Selling With A Noble Purpose and Leading With A Noble Purpose. You can contact her at

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