How to Combat Negativity in the Workplace

We’ve all dealt with that doom and gloom co-worker(s) that simply can’t find the light in anything they are doing, but how can we help and not let this kind of negativity in the workplace bring us down too?

Staying positive isn’t always easy, but it’s important to recognize when you’ve got a good thing going and avoid letting the negative nelly at your firm ruin it for everyone else.

Prefer to Listen Instead of Read?

As you know, in addition to this blog and the Paralegals on Fire! Podcast Show, I develop courses for paralegals who want to fast-track their careers. I know how valuable your time is, so I strive to give you as much information as possible in the shortest amount of time possible because I know that you’re busy. I don’t want to waste your time or mine on a 5-hour course that gives you just a few small nuggets of information. I certainly remember the days of having to sit through boring CLEs wishing I had toothpicks to keep my eyes open. I never want that for anyone else.

Paralegal Professional Development Opportunities

But what does that have to do with negativity in the workplace?

Well, in addition to individuals like you who purchase our courses at the Paralegal Boot Camp, many law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies also purchase our courses for their paralegals to have on-demand access to.

negativity in the workplace

It’s a great thing, and I love to see that in the paralegal profession. Employers investing in paralegal career development. Some of them take it even a step further and say, “well, we want you to come to our location and present live training sessions for a group of paralegals.” As you can imagine, it costs more to have me appear live than it does for them to access a course I’ve already recorded.

For the ones choosing the on-demand access option, it’s usually not a matter of not wanting to spend the extra money. The organizations that choose on-demand access are usually doing so because they can’t possibly get a day and time when ALL of their paralegals are available at the same time.

Now on the flip side of that, some individual paralegals go to the website every day and put down their own credit cards because it’s worth it to them to invest in their career. It would be nice, really nice, in fact, if they didn’t have to take money out of their own pockets, but they do.

Now a side note to that, I’ve seen a lot of times where paralegals pay for their own professional development, and their attorneys will offer to reimburse them once they see the results from that professional development program. In fact, earlier, I did a blog on how to get your firm to invest in your paralegal career development.

If only we could all be so lucky to work at a law firm that I was at a few weeks ago doing a live presentation for them. The law firm had invested more than just wanting on-demand access to a course. They wanted to make sure that I could be there live rather than by webinar in a series for one of our more comprehensive Boot Camps. I’m always immediately impressed with a firm that wants to go that extra mile for its paralegals. I’m even more impressed when it’s a smaller firm where they don’t have that many paralegals attending each event. It’s one thing when you’ve got a large law firm that has 40, 50, or 100 paralegals attending all at once. It’s a whole other thing when this law firm had less than 30 paralegals attending.

The Negative Nelly in the Workplace

I’m doing the series of live presentations for them, and then I meet her. Who? The paralegal we’ve all encountered – the one who always has to complain about having to attend training events because they think they already know everything there is to know about being a paralegal.

Paralegals who don’t appreciate the fact that they work at a law firm that is willing to spend thousands of dollars to invest in their career development. In fact, they sometimes even ruin things for the other paralegals who do appreciate it and want to attend these events.

There are so many paralegals out there who work at law firms that don’t ever spend that money. Imagine if you were one of those paralegals working at a law firm that doesn’t reimburse you for professional development or doesn’t encourage you to attend professional development events.

You might be thinking the same thing I was when I heard this paralegal complaining about having to “attend this thing that’s a waste of my time.” How lucky for her that she even has the opportunity to complain about having to attend these things that her firm is paying for because many paralegals out there don’t get that opportunity.

I guess it’s like the old saying, “you don’t know how good it is until you lose it.“ I’m sure if you’re reading this right now and you’re working at an organization that doesn’t pay for your professional development, you might want to contact her and switch jobs. Let her go to work for a firm that doesn’t care about paralegal professional development because you’d be stoked to learn that your firm is going to be providing training for you.

negativity in the workplace

Dealing with Negativity in the Workplace

If you are a paralegal who doesn’t want to attend professional development events that are being paid for by your employer, then sit down and be quiet, please. You’ve had your run.

You have the right to choose whether or not you want to participate, but that doesn’t mean you need to ruin it for the other paralegals in the firm who do want to participate and who do appreciate that they work for a firm that is investing in them. Just because you think that you don’t need any training and you don’t want to develop yourself professionally, don’t ruin it for everyone else.

If you are a paralegal who does appreciate working at a firm that pays for your professional development and you are not quite sure how to deal with the complainer sitting in the conference room who doesn’t want to be there, start by drowning them out with positive statements. For example, “Well, I’m really looking forward to this professional development event, and I appreciate that the firm is willing to do this for us because a lot of firms don’t do that for their paralegals.”

In other words, kill them with kindness. Because one thing I’ve learned in the last 30 years of working with people like that…when they’re in a room full of you – the ones who are happy and excited about the potential and where your career is going – it’s harder for them to do that. It’s like a flame that has no oxygen. Don’t give them the oxygen. Be you, and don’t let them bring you down. 

Here’s the thing…that person is probably also the same person I’ve talked about before. Those with a scarcity mindset in the paralegal profession.

When Your Firm Isn’t Supporting Your Professional Development

If you’re at a firm that doesn’t pay for your professional development, use our tips on how to get your attorney to invest in your career development because if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. In our interview with Kim Barrett, she shared that if you don’t ever ask for advancement opportunities at your firm, the answer will always be no. For example, when you want a promotion or are interested in growing or developing your skills in a new area. This also applies to your career development or professional development opportunities and in all kinds of other areas in your career and life.

Regardless of whether or not your firm pays for professional development, please don’t fall for the negative people in your organization who want to turn a good thing into a bad thing. Whether it’s attending professional development events or other things. Don’t be the person who complains that the free snacks in the break room suck or the person who complains about the annual staff appreciation lunch. More importantly, don’t let these types of people bring you down with them.

negativity in the workplace

When I was a paralegal manager, I was many years into developing what I felt was a great paralegal group. I was so proud of the team I had. Then I made a new hire, and it wasn’t long before I had a couple of paralegals coming to me telling me how this new person was starting trouble. It was because this new person became close friends with one of the negative nelly secretaries. I’d see them go to lunch every day.

I called the new paralegal into my office and told her straight up I’d worked very hard to develop a great collaborative team of paralegals, and I wasn’t going to let one bad apple ruin that. I told her that gossiping and stirring up trouble in the group was not going to be tolerated. She apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again. But it did. Literally, within a couple of weeks, she was getting one of the young associates involved in it. This time, I called her into my office and told her that she had two weeks to find herself a new job.

Now, is that going to happen to all of those negative nelly’s – unfortunately, most likely not. But I can tell you that management knows who they are. It’s not a big secret. So do yourself a favor and stay away from them. Stay as far away as you possibly can – because they are not good for your paralegal career.

Take Our Paralegal Survey To Build A Better Workplace

This paralegal survey will only take a short amount of time to complete, and we hope once you’ve taken it, you’ll share it with at least three colleagues or friends who are paralegals. The more responses we get, the better the results. With these results, we hope to minimize the opportunity for negativity in the workplace as we strive to improve the workplace for all paralegals.

Share it on social media, put it in your Paralegal Association newsletters, and let’s get tens of thousands of paralegals to share their experience in the paralegal profession.

We’ll leave it open long enough to get a good amount of responses, and in a couple of months, we’ll evaluate the results and share our findings!

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