September 12, 2017

Your Tuesday Top 5: Practice Respect by Being Positive and Avoiding Negativity in the Workplace

Posted by AGU Career Center

Every Tuesday, Patricia Yaya, AGU Vice President of Human Resources & Administrative Services, sends a message to the entire AGU staff featuring five short tips for getting by in the workplaceStarting this week, On the Job will be publishing these tips in a new weekly segment, Tuesday Top 5.

AGU is a forward-thinking organization. With the net zero building renovation project, we are navigating a lot of change all while working in a temporary location and adjusting to an open-office environment. In short, we are busy and working in an ever-changing environment.

Regardless of your work environment, whether it be in a lab or in the field, an open-office environment or aboard a research vessel, maintaining positivity in the workplace is important to career success.  Here are five tips for staying positive and avoiding negativity in the workplace.

  1. Be respectful. This is a broad topic and one area where practice makes perfect. Awareness is key: Be aware of your words and actions. Whether in-person face-to-face, among your peers or on the phone, Skype or email, demonstrate respect. Remember respect is more than your words, actions matter, too. Arguably, actions matter most. These include tone and body language. Here’s a big one: Avoid gossiping. It is neither appropriate nor helpful. Further, it can irreparably harm reputations, including your own. 
  2. Identify and address issues early. When you feel disrespected, don’t let it fester. Talk to the individual, or the team, or your supervisor. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, check your organization’s employee handbook which should have advice on alternative reporting structures whether it be through your H.R. department or something else.
  3. Create workable solutions. Participate and provide thoughtful input to create solutions. Avoid expressing negativity. Sure, there are times when it all looks bad, work is piling up and up and up. Make yourself part of the solution, not the problem. Attitudes, whether positive or negative, are contagious. Complaining (to your team or others) without meaningful input is neither productive nor efficient. In fact, it wastes time. Further, negativity spreads quickly from one employee to another, even when that may not be your intent. Again, awareness is critical. 
  4. Ask for feedback.  Ask for feedback and be prepared to listen to what you hear. Listen. Pause. Frame your response carefully and thoughtfully. If you aren’t sure what is meant, ask questions to clarify meaning. We all make mistakes, and sometimes they are big ones. Own up. Take the critique and work to improve on the next time. We earn respect by responding in a consistently respectful manner. 
  5. Understand your role and responsibility. It is important that you understand and accept that conflict may arise at any time. Sometimes it will be when you least expect it and when you are least prepared for it. When that happens, remember that you are in control of two things: Your actions and your reactions.  Be aware of them. Own them. Further, if you have, or think that you have, offended someone, acknowledge it, apologize for it and take steps to control your future interactions.

Patricia Yaya is the Vice President of Human Resources and Administrative Services at the American Geophysical Union.  Additional AGU Staff contributed to this blog.