ARE YOU A POT STIRRER?
Don’t upset the apple cart. It’s a saying that implies, “Why stir the pot and change what’s working well?” But how do you prevent bad apples from spoiling the bushels you’ve nurtured and harvested? “Bad apples” or “Negatalkers” are toxic communicators who poison the very air you breathe. Although no one likes conflict, confrontation is necessary on occasion. In general, many of us grit our teeth, cringe, or downright fear talking to a whiny-baby complainer who is able to find fault with angels. Nothing, after all, is quite perfect enough for the grumpy one. In short, Negatalkers, people who chronically complain and spread their poison all around the workplace and homespace, do none of us any favors.
NEGATALKERS: PEOPLE AT WORK WHO DRAIN YOU
Here are the private thoughts of one Instigator leader manager who reached the end of her rope with a disgruntled employee who runs in the Misery Loves Company, and I Make Good Company! crowd:
One of the people who reports to me is a very toxic communicator and a very disgruntled employee. I’ve had it with him. This Negatalker thinks the world is picking on him and owes him. You can’t sit down and just talk with Joe because he will run off at the mouth, go on a complain jag, and gripe the whole time. He’s a negative Instigator communicator who is subversive…he knows the negative seeds to plant in the minds of team members. Even when company changes have resulted in bonuses from a generous organization, Joe still fumes about how it’s not fair, and he’s the “poor me” victim. How can you be a victim when you make a six-figure income? I was taught that “people who dig dirt, lose ground.” Joe digs dirt on everyone and gossips, and worse yet, throws mud on the good works of others. I’m done walking on eggshells and working around him to avoid a confrontation!
Negative emotions get all stirred up during confusing communication that is crude and rude. Thus, expert communicators must tap on the brakes of their communicator car to slow down speeding emotions, in order to make a good talk plan. Will the Negatalker listen? Fat chance. But why risk your team car skidding on black ice down the two-way communicator highway and into the ditch?
TAKE A BITE FROM THE MANURE SANDWICH?
Negatalkers try to pass off a manure sandwich as if it’s a bologna sandwich, which is pure baloney. Negatalkers, whether a negative Empathizer (E-type) communicator or a negative Instigator (I-type) communicator, need to be called on the carpet in no uncertain terms. In fact, you might have to verbally hit the Negatalker, with a two-by-four wood plank to the side of the head, to get his or her attention. (Empathy isn’t a good thing with stubborn people who have a thick skull.) Here’s the relationship profile of the Negatalker:
• A toxic communicator
• Stagnant communication skills but legend in own mind
• Mad at life…personally unaware
• Pontificate by telling you how you should think or feel about events
• Brings up past events or activities that happened 25,000 years or so ago
• Spinning wheels instead of solving problems
• Repeating mistakes and rationalizing result in not going forward
• Too risk-cautious
• Chronic complaining
• Doesn’t suggest options, such as, “But we should try…
• A fear-driven career victim
• Making my problems, everybody’s problems
• Hunkered down behind a high, stone, security wall, topped off with razor wire
Negative people create division and dissention in the ranks, and they unintentionally create a time-wasting, energy-draining organizational climate. Why? Negatalkers are flooded by disowned negative emotions that they desperately pass on to others around them.
ARE YOU A MORALE BUSTER OR A MOTIVATION BOOSTER?
Negatalkers bust team morale instead of boosting group motivation! That’s how one bad apple can spoil or damage the whole bunch. As a leader manager or supervisor, you can’t afford to sugar-coat assertive feedback when it comes to chronic complainers who undermine the joys of teamwork. Have you been using the Talk to Me© feedback system? Good for you!
THE CRAFTY OR SLY COMMUNICATOR
Bad apples ought to be fired but rarely are. Good people learn to avoid being and working around negative communicators, which works in the short run but costs energy over the long haul. “Clever as a fox in a chicken coop!” describes the crafty communicator. As one business owner put it: “The more open and communicative you are with your people…the better off you are in the long run.” And that includes being direct with dingbats.
BEAT AROUND THE BUSH WITH AN INSTIGATOR OR I-TYPE COMMUNICATOR?
I-types don’t much cotton to beating around the bush. Instigators want it straight up, pure, hard, and fast in “listen up” language. This is because I-types are constantly evaluating their accomplishments. In our case study above, the whiny-baby was a negative I-type talker. What makes emotional communication tricky, complex, and complicated with anyone?
Emotional communication is:
• Fraught with anxiety
• Fog of emotions
• Feels like a waste of time and energy
• Mentally consuming
• Emotionally draining
Empathizer and Instigator managers alike have the light of their energy dimmed by difficult people who are chronic complainers.
ARE YOU A PRECISION COMMUNICATOR?
You are a precision communicator. You know who you’re talking to by type. You adjust your language style to fit into the shoes of your co-communicator. You don’t build rapport to manipulate or to sell what someone doesn’t need. Yes, you are being held to impossibly challenging communication standards that include upfront giving corrective feedback. No worries mate. You are fully capable of making Miracles Happen On Talk Street.
ABOUT CORPORATE TRAINER, KEYNOTE SPEAKER AND COMMUNICATIONS PSYCHOLOGIST DENNIS E. O’GRADY, PSY.D.
Dr. Dennis O’Grady is the “Talk Doc” and president of the Dayton Psychological Association, a relationship communications expert, corporate trainer, inspirational keynote speaker, and experienced couples and family counselor. For over 30 years, Dr. O’Grady has focused on improving effective communication among everyone, including in-love couples, at-work teams, corporate leaders, and their families. Dennis is the developer of the innovative results-driven Talk to Me© effective leadership and teamwork communication system. His book on positive and effective interpersonal communication, Talk to Me: Communication Moves To Get Along with Anyone, is available at drogrady.com or at Amazon.