How to Stay Positive in a Negative Work Situation

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Being in a workplace where layoffs are pending, employees are disgruntled or the work conditions are less than ideal can damage your health and productivity -- but the key is to stay focused on the positive and to set your sights on the future. The mire in which you're swimming is not permanent, so do what you can to see the big picture.

Put the Positive in Front of You

  • Little reminders of the positive things in your life can help you keep things in perspective and remind you that there's life beyond work. Try putting affirmative statements on the wall of your office, suggests entrepreneur mentor Amy Rees Anderson of Forbes. Family photos or photos of enjoyable trips you've taken can also help you get perspective. Also take time for yourself each day. Exercise at least three days a week and eat a healthy diet to fuel a positive mental outlook, recommends MayoClinic.org.

Find Your Allies

  • Chances are that not everyone or everything in the workplace is negative. First and foremost, avoid taking part in gossip, whining, or other negative talk around the office. Then go find the other people who stay out of the fray, and make them your allies in the workplace. When you're around so many negative people, having a friendly face that you know will continue smiling can really help lift your spirits.

Control What You Can Control

  • You might be surrounded by negative co-workers or a less-than-ideal work situation, but remember that not all of it is within your control. You can't control what others think or what they do -- and knowing that may help you start to let go of your anger. You can, however, decide to avoid being a negative person. You can also choose to reinforce the positive aspects of the workplace instead of the negative ones. Most people are not 100 percent negative, reminds leadership coach Peter Bregman in an October 2012 article in Psychology Today, so make a habit of giving attention to the positive aspects or the positive comments that people around you make, instead of reinforcing the negative ones.

Look to the Future

  • When things are really stressful and toxic, it may just be time to cut your losses and get out of there. While it's usually not wise to quit your job before you have another one, there's no harm in starting to seek other work -- and it can help lift your spirits. If you land a job interview, try to get a good read of the office culture before you take the job. Talk to some of the other employees about their jobs, and take a good look around the place to see whether people seem content. Even the act of job hunting can help you gain some perspective and give you something to look forward to.

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