We all have employees who are negative, complain, or constantly suffer. They always have a problem, and we don't really know what to do with them.
I am writing about personality traits (Big 5) and what they look like at work, so I thought I would bring a piece to you. Those who are constantly negative or have something to moan about are very likely to be high on the Neuroticism trait related to negative emotions.
They have a heightened reaction to negative emotions like frustration, disappointment, pain, threat, uncertainty, and anxiety. The slightest inconvenience can throw them off track, and all you hear about the whole day is that the car parking space was taken by somebody else. Note: the trait of neuroticism is not negative or positive. It is needed to keep us safe and alive. This trait tells us about the person's reaction to negative emotions.
Knowing this about ourselves and someone can help manage the person at work. How?
Firstly, as a person managing someone high on neuroticism, you need to know one thing. You will not beat nature, you can only manage the behaviour.
The best way of managing this behaviour is to be very open about it and lay down the rules. I allow time to express frustration but reframe it. I have a friend who is extremely high on this trait, and while she knows that I am always there, I don't let her get tangled up in those negative emotions. She always starts the sentence like this: I am not suffering, but here is what happened:-))) She tells me the story, and I ask for a solution.
However, sometimes this doesn't work with employees, friends or partners, so this is when I reach out to my ultimate question that tends to put things into perspective for both of us.
Give me three things that work for you right now.
This works all the time when someone is just complaining. By doing that, you shift the mind to focus on what works, then take one problem and see how that can be addressed. Bringing people's attention to the fact that not everything is terrible and they probably got caught up on a minor silly thing that makes no difference in the larger scheme of things is always the first step.
However, when the person cannot give me three things, not because they are negative but simply because there are no three things that work, it is time to say goodbye to each other, whether it is a friend, colleague or partner.
So if you are feeling low today, try to list three things that work for you. If you can, enjoy the day, life is not that bad.
If you cannot, you do need to take action. I left my country 20 years ago because I could list only two things that worked, family and friends, and I realised they would always be there no matter where I went. So I packed one suitcase and got on the plane to London.
PS: I am very low on Neuroticism, only 2%. I basically don't experience many negative emotions. My emotions are neutral.
If you want to learn about your personality traits, here is the assessment. But make sure you are ready for the result because it will tell you who you are.