Overcoming Workplace NegativityBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Some people can find the dark cloud in every silver lining. These individuals are all too ready to pounce on the latest idea or the smallest breakthrough—so they can tear it down. Let me be clear. I'm not talking about constructive advice here. A thoughtful counter-point can be essential to the decision-making process.
But I'm referring to people who have a commitment to pessimism. They always view the glass as half empty. They are chronic naysayers, and they are an occupational hazard in this fallen world.
How should we respond to their negativity at work? My guess is that most of us don't respond well. Negative comments can feel like an attack on our ideas, and sometimes we respond with a counter attack. On other occasions, we may immerse ourselves in fruitless introspection over a criticism because we're afraid of making a mistake. After all, the last thing we want to do is prove those nay-sayers right!
When we respond like this, we're far too focused on ourselves and the judgments rendered on our ideas. We let the opinions of others loom large in our world. We're more concerned about what others think than what God thinks. We're caught up in what Proverbs 29:25 calls the fear of man.
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
In contrast, God's word offers us a different way of responding to negativity. By viewing negative comments and criticisms through the lens of biblical truth, we can be set free to do the right thing. Here are three biblical truths that can guide our responses.
1. Fear God, Not Naysayers
"Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him." (Psalm 25:12 )
King David, one of the greatest leaders in history, reminds us to fear God because it is the smart thing to do. Instead of being controlled by the fear of man, we will receive God's guidance amidst our greatest challenges.
2. Forgive Others for Their Negativity
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32 )
We can forgive when others respond negatively because Christ has forgiven us. Upon honest reflection, we might remember occasions when we too have sinned by complaining or tearing others down. Rather than uncharitably judging those who are pessimistic toward our ideas, we can learn to be patient with them, even as God has been patient with us.
3. God's Favor Gives Us Courage to Act
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 )
Acting out of conviction and doing the right thing is just smart. In the long run, what really matters is God's favor, not man's opinion. Focusing on God can help us value the advice others give—even when it's ill-motivated or poorly constructed.