the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism
Agnew is credited with coining the term, “Nattering
Nabobs of Negativism”. He used the term while
referring to the media who badgered him continuously
through his short stint as Vice President. For those
of you born after the baby boomer generation, Spiro
Agnew was the Vice President under Richard Nixon from
1968 though October 1974 when he resigned after pleading
no contest to charges of tax fraud.
who hear “Nattering Nabobs of Negativism”
for the first time think of the plethora of people who
persist in protesting every decision or action in the
workplace. As you read this column, you will undoubtedly
think of the people in your organization that fit into
this category. Every workplace has at least one nabob
of negativism. .
The grapevine is a phenomenon that is common in most,
if not all, organizations. It is also the breeding ground
for negativity. Getting engrossed in the grapevine,
rumor mill or other harmful actions breeds contempt
for mangers, co-workers and the organization as a whole.
Allowed to grow uncontrollably, the gossip mill has
been known to ruin careers or bring down an entire company.
Negativity is destructive, damaging and downright devastating
to an establishment. Negativity is probably the most
detrimental obstruction to progress, productivity and
profitability than any business practice. It is easy
to fall into the negativity trap. Complaining about
others seems to be human nature. Once in the trap it
is almost impossible to get out of it as it acts like
a whirlpool. It pulls people in and it is nearly impossible
to get out. As more and more people are sucked in, the
pessimistic undercurrent becomes the norm and feeding
the destructive frenzy becomes the way to be accepted
in the organization. The negativity becomes contagious
and grows to out of control proportions. At its worst,
negativity can bring legal problems as complaints of
harassment and discriminations are more common in negative
how do these Nattering Nabobs of Negativism get a stronghold
on the organization? The answer is simple - they are
allowed to. In many cases, the nabobs are encouraged
to continue their griping. This encouragement does not
come from management, but from co-workers. It seems
to be human nature to question decisions, second guess
management and blame others for the things that go awry.
Management can do little to stop it. The negativity
has truly taken hold when seemingly small and insignificant
events get blown out of proportion and become major
stumbling blocks. Employees develop an insatiable appetite
for the latest and greatest dirt from who will be getting
fired to who’s sleeping with who. Others spend
about half of their time criticizing others instead
of doing something positive then complain that they
do not have enough time to finish their work.
Recent studies confirm that nearly half of the American
workers have negative or extremely negative feelings
about their jobs. Regardless of how negative your work
environment is, you should not resign yourself to the
fact that it will exist no matter what you do. Most
nabobs will continue their whining and complaining as
long as there are listeners. Therefore, the best way
to stop the nabobs is to stop encouraging them.
are also major advantages to avoiding the nabobs? Think
of it this way, if you were the business owner, who
would you promote, the very capable individual who complains
about anything and everything or the very capable employee
who is very positive about the work and the company?
This is not a tough choice.
about the new employee who starts a new job in your
company and is confronted with co-workers’ stories
about all the bad stuff going on. If there are people
leaving your company after a short time on the job,
then you may want to listen in on what the experienced
workers are telling the new employee. Then think about
how much this is costing you and your company in lost
way of diminishing the effect of the nabobs is the counterattack.
Some ways of countering negativity include pointing
out positive alternatives to their depressing comments
or transforming negative comments into positive problem
solving events. Try complimenting a colleague when he
or she helps out a fellow employee or does someone a
favor. Most people work better when someone notices
the good things and offer positive comments.
the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity like the plague.
Beware of labeling people or speaking unkindly about
others. When conversations turn to grumbling, leave
the area or steer the conversation in a more positive
a positive work environment, employees enjoy their work,
experience less job related stress and live healthier
lives. Positive work environments are also more creative,
progressive, productive and profitable.
make a pact to yourself today to avoid negative influences,
get pleasure from your job and your work associates.
You will find it to be a healthier and happier way to
live. Negate those Nattering Nabobs of Negativism now
and never notice them again. Good luck and best wishes