Why Being Negative At Work Can Hurt Your Career

Why Being Negative At Work Can Hurt Your Career Hero Image

You might be helping your employer by regularly pointing out problems in the workplace, but you are hurting your own performance by doing so, new research shows.

According to new research in the Journal of Applied Psychology, those who focus on the negative aspects of work are more likely to become mentally fatigued and defensive, and therefore experience a dive in productivity.

For the study, a team led by Russell Johnson of Michigan State University conducted two field surveys of more than 300 total workers in a variety of occupations, such as accounting, retail, manufacturing, and health care.

They found that those who reported being critical about their work environments were more likely to feel mentally drained, and therefore less able to concentrate, than their peers who put a more positive spin on their complaints.

"The irony of that is, when people are mentally fatigued they're less likely to point out problems anymore," Johnson said in a press release. "In addition, their own work performance suffers, they're less likely to be cooperative and helpful, and they even exhibit deviant behaviors such as being verbally abusive and stealing from the employer."

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So what should we do? Just keep our mouths shut when we notice bad things going on in the workplace. No, Johnson says, it's worth saying something sometimes — but it might be better, for your own sake, to phrase that something so that it ways to improve things.

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