5 Tips to handle negative coworkers

by | Oct 6, 2020 | Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienists, Dental Job, Dental Office, Dental Professionals, Work Life | 0 comments

Working can sometimes be a drag.  I mean, why can’t we all just be millionaires traveling the world on our yachts???  

But if you are surrounded by negative coworkers it will ALWAYS be a drag. 

I spent years working in dental practices and there was always someone who managed to bring the team down.  

When I was a regional manager, I ran 4 to 7 practices at any given time and without fail, there was always someone in one of the offices that caused problems.  I had 1 office where the office manager brought everyone down, another where it was the assistant, my highest producing hygienist was terrifying and everyone in the office was afraid of her and one of my dentists would some days come in an be the happiest person in the world and then other days she would try to fire everyone in the office.  So I can say with certainty I learned how to manage and work with some tough personalities.  

I took my tools and put it into this post.  Here I will attempt to help you not only handle but enjoy working with the downers. 

#1 Remember it is them not you

Whenever, anyone is rude or unreasonable to you, for no apparent reason, remember it is something they are going through and not something you did.  There could be a multitude of reasons that are unhappy such as money, relationship problems, a sick relative, and stress.  So when someone is rude or negative try to meet them with compassion. 

My 2 worst offenders that I managed (my office manager and the dentist I mentioned above) were extremely challenging, but whenever I worked with or spoke with them I would pretend they were toddlers having a fit.  It is very hard to let an upset toddler rattle you.  And it made me just want to help them through their hard time.  

When a toddler is upset, you tend to listen to their grievances, and then help them address it.  I do the same with my coworkers and it works like a charm every time.  

#2 Have a short memory

Do not let your coworkers’ negative actions stick with you. It is absolutely pointless.  I used to dwell on it and then I came across this quote.  I read it whenever I feel myself hanging onto someone else’s actions. 

“You have $86,400 in your bank account and someone stole $10 from you.  Would you be upset and throw all of the $86,390 you had left away in hopes of getting back at the person who took your $10?  Or would you move on and live?  Right, move on and live.  See, we have 86,400 seconds everyday, so don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the rest of the 86,390 seconds you have left in the day.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, life is bigger than that. “

Unfortunately, I have never been able to find who wrote that quote, so I can’t give credit, but it is a beautiful reminder to not let someone’s actions ruin your whole day.  

#3 Make them be the only negative person in the office

I once had the grumpiest oral surgeon.  If he had a challenging surgery, everyone knew it and we would all walk on eggshells around him.  One time, he was being just the WORST.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  So in the break room in front of everyone, I turned to him, looked him straight in the eye and said “What did sushi A say to sushi B?  Wasabi!”  It caught him so off guard he started laughing and so did everyone in the break room.  He then got mad that he laughed and stormed out but everyone else in the office was nice and relaxed for the rest of the day.  

Find ways to bring joy to everyone else in the office so that one negative person is alone instead of taking everyone down their negative hole with them. 

#4 Be honest with yourself

Are you the negative person?  The one thing I noticed with my negative coworkers, was that they honestly didn’t know they were the problem.  They didn’t understand that their actions affected the whole office and thought all these bad things were happening to them and not because of them.  

So do some soul searching and make sure you are not the problem.  

Even if you aren’t, these practices will make you happy and will make it easier to follow tips 1, 2, & 3. 

Start a gratitude journal.
Read happy quotes.
Set a reminder on your phone to be happy (Every 3 hours, my phone chimes with a note saying “Be the light”).
Share funny jokes with your favorite coworker or patients.

#5 Know when to cut your losses

If it is truly awful and you are not in a position where you can assist in making personnel changes, then it might be time to cut your losses.  Usually, if it is an assistant, hygienist or front office staff that is causing issues you can work with the doctor or the Office Manager to fix it.  But if it is the Dentist or the Office Manager that is casting a negative cloud over the office, it is impossible to make those changes. 

We spend too much time at the office so if you absolutely must get out of your job due to a negative atmosphere, head to DirectDental to start looking for jobs.  And if needed you can find temp work on the site until you find something great.  

I hope this helps bring some light and positively to you and your work!Smile,
Holli Perez
CMO of DirectDental