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Negating the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

Spiro 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.

Many 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 the Most Common Source of Negativity
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 managers, 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 work environments.

Negativity Happens Because It is Allowed To
So 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 standard practice to question decisions, second guess management and blame others when things go awry. Once it has taken hold in the organization, there is little that can be done to stop it. When negativity takes hold, seemingly small and insignificant events get blown out of proportion and become major stumbling blocks to overcome. Employees develop an insatiable appetite for the latest and greatest dirt from who will be getting fired to who’s sleeping with whom. Others spend about half of their time criticizing others instead of doing something positive and then complain that they do not have enough time to finish their work.

Just Stop Listening
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.

There 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.

What Do the New Employees Think?
Think 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 productivity.

Counter Attacks Work
One 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 offers positive comments.

Avoid 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 direction.

In 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.

So, 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 for success.

This edition is a re-print from over three years ago.  We thought it appropriate for the times.  Thanks for reading the McKenzie Mailer.

Bob McKenzie
President
McKenzieHR

potential@mckenziehr.com

 

August 2008
What's Your People Plan
July 2008
Human Resources Strange But True People Stories
June 2008
HR Compliance Issues at the Forefront
May 2008
Performance Management Never Stops
April 2008
Don’t Make Tough Times Tougher
March 2008
What Ever Happened to the Personal Touch?
December 2007
It's That Time of Year Again
November 2007
HR Hot Topic #3 - Immigration
September 2007 -
HR Hot Topic #2 - Controlling the Cost of Medical Benefits
August 2007 -
HR Hot Topic #1 Recruitment and Retention
June 2007 -
Strategic Human Resources is Not an Oxymoron
May 2007 -
Is It Really a Hostile Work Environment?
April 2007 -
What happens after a new employee is hired?
March 2007 -
SHIFT HAPPENS
February 2007 -
Imagine
January 2007 -
Discrimination & Harassment
December 2006 -
ITíS BEEN A HECK OF A YEAR
October 2006 -
The Why Label Generation Y?
September 2006 -
The World of Recruitment Has Changed
August 2006 -
Keep Your "A" Players
July 2006 -
Traits of a High Performance Workplace
June 2006 -
Is a Mediocre Employee Better Than No Employee?
May 2006 -
The Compliance Vultures are Circling – Are You Prepared?
April 2006 -
Is Administrivia Keeping HR from Getting a Seat at the Table?
March 2006 -
Agreeing to Disagree or Avoiding the Subject
February 2006 -
Happy Valentine's Day
January 2006 -
Be a Talent Magnet and a Talent Utilizer