Negativity in a software development team

Some people tent to spread this negativity along within project teams. Negativity is a bad thing, it drains down the effectiveness and joy within teams. These persons complain constantly at all things, that everyone is wrong, everything sucks and they only know what should be done differently. And off course –seen from their side– they are nothing to blame for, it is the rest that suck.

This kind of negative behavior within a team is a disaster for any team. As Napoleon Hill quite frankly states it, “a bad mindset attracts a bad outcome“. This is quite easy to explain; think you just bought a red car. Now when you look around you, you will think you will see more red cars then before. The reason for is, that our mind will filter out everything where it is focused on. The same is true for having a bad attitude within the team. It will affect other people, and people are beginning to lose confidence in the goals that are defined within the team. What is the reason for this kind of behavior, and what can you do about it?

The costs of having a negative person within the team

First of all, people are going to act frustrated by this negativity and when they personalize the critique, it will tear up walls between persons. And in fact it is very hard to work effectively when there are walls between people.

Reasons of a negative mindset

The negative mindset can have multiple sources. Most of the times, you will see it is a person feeling in a sense attacked. It is an attack on his ego, what Ryan Holiday also describes in this book Ego is the enemy. This can be due of lack of self-confidence. Holiday says that feeling better then the rest about yourself, is in fact the balm for feeling insecure.

I also had a while ago some parent saying something bad about my six year old kid, sliding down the stairs. His son said something about this, and the parent clearly didn’t knew what to say about this. Feeling insecure about himself, the parent said to his child that my son wasn’t that smart. Off course I wasn’t that of a grown-up reaction to his child, but I saw due to the fact he felt attacked in a sense (since he didn’t know how to deal with this situation), he went into attacking in me. This person had also a sense of feeling insecure.

Go into conversation

At first it is very important that the lead developer or the one direct leading this person, must address his or her negative behavior. This can be done by confronting the person with it. A good manager has to do this, before the rotting goes across the whole team.

By addressing the situation, you can here if the other person also is aware of it and together they can maybe found the root cause of it. There might be something underneath it, by addressing you might find a solution together that will change the way the other person behaves. At least it creates awarness at the other side.

It’s important that you don’t blame someone when getting into conversation. Address how you felt when someone did something. By blaming, you will otherwise at the start judging. It might be that the other person is not aware of the situation or that he or she acts due to other reasons this way.

Letting the person go

It can be very unhealthy to let a negative person stay on the team. It will influence the productivity of other people and even other people in the team might want to leave. Even when the person is very valuable to the team, letting go is better than having the negativity within your team.

Act as the good example

By showing positive behavior, you will influence the negative person. If more people within the team are positive, more changes are that the negative person in the end will also copy this behavior.

Don’t make it personal

Since all of us have the tendency to be liked by others, we’re most likely to project the negative talk by the other on ourselves. Unless the person really say’s so, most of the times if you listen carefully the negativity is addressed more general. Seen in that perspective, try to get it not touched by you and try to let it go.

Aprease their good behavior

When they do show positive behaviour within the company, compliment them about what they did. Then they will more likely to do more of these things in the future. It is like parenting a child.

Posted in Personal growth by Bruno at March 31st, 2020.

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