The Curse of the Pessimistic Workplace

It’s Monday!

You wake up although the bed is very comfy. Nothing can make you get up. Or can it? You begin to think of work-related stuff. What are you going to expect this week? Will you meet your goals?

Being optimist has its pros and cons. If you are going to read this article, I have the feeling you are somewhat optimistic, although bounded by some external limitations. Back to the story – you tell yourself that today is going to be the best Monday ever! You are going to crush your goals and then some! By now, most people should envy you. It takes a lot of self motivation to, first think of such thoughts and second, to make them a reality.

Get up, do the rituals and head to work. Boom! The reality check. All that you have set out to do, sort of is extremely hard to do once you set foot in the office building. Why? – The “Curse” of the Pessimistic Workplace!

What is the Pessimistic Workplace?

It is your workplace that is full of pessimism. And it has a lot to do with your optimism too.

Pessimism is a state of mind in which one anticipates undesirable outcomes or believes that the evil or hardships in life outweigh the good or luxuries. source

Pessimism comes from the Latin word “pessimus” meaning “the worst”. In other words, pessimists simply look for the worst in everything. For the same reason, I have used the term “curse” because due to many studies, it is a curse for anyone set out to deliver results.

According to a very insightful article by Lisa Mooney, featured on, there are a number of strong effects that a pessimistic workplace leads to:

1. Very low levels of energy

Back to the story – the moment you walk in, all your energy is drained. How can that be? Well, energy can be understood as something that radiates. We feel very happy around people that radiate  optimism. The same can be said for the opposite situation.

Now, when the place you work is filled up with such energy, it can very easily be transferred to you. Although no one really wants to accept such bad influence, pessimism has another deadly trait.

2. Contagion

Pessimism spreads easily around the office. If one colleague starts to spread negative energy to others, everyone starts to feel it. The coworker can lack in productivity and simply accomplish task in a less than average manner. The path of least resistance somehow finds its way to you too.

Contagion can be stopped. But the failure, or inaction, to do so, leads to having the “cursed” workplace. Good management can go a long way in managing these situations.

3. Indifference

When employees lack passion, they lack feeling. Such compassion for the company, business, clients, coworkers, tasks, really boosts the productivity of everyone. A pessimistic workplace, on the other hand, strives on indifference. It only takes one, or few, to start feeling like they do not care anymore. If left unattended, are going to begin to feel the same way too? – It is likely probable.

4. Frustration

The real killer of optimism is the frustration of being in that pessimistic workplace. The optimistic nature of people tends to try to change things. To try new opportunities, to take risks, to make mistakes, but always be on the verge of something awesome. Even worse, is to try to do those things, when little, or no one is there to support you. How long can you be alone? When will your energy drain?

5. Bad working habits

According to Chris Newton’s article featured on, pessimistic workers radiate bad working habits. Low energy leads to lack of motivation, bad working ethic, distraction and an unfocused mind.

The Other Side?

Researching any possible positive things from the pessimistic workplace, I came across an article that got me thinking – could there possibly be an another side to this? Allison Stadd at wrote an article titled: How Pessimism Can Improve Your Life And Work. The article features a video by The School of Life that actually has some very solid points to support pessimism.

pessimism prepares you for the worst, reduces your expectations, and protects you from disappointment—all helpful for your psyche as well as your creative output

It further argues that the modern society is overwhelmed with optimism, mostly due to the extraordinary supply of products out there. The purpose of the sellers (read: businesses) is to try to present them in a happy and cheerful way, full of positive energy, so you would not feel bad spending money.

Surviving the Pessimistic Workplace?

I have compiled a list of three things you can start doing today to help you fight the curse of the pessimistic workplace:

speak out loud

Communication is the key to every problem solving. To fight the pessimism, be sure to openly talk about all problems. In an cross-functional team, communication is even more important. Be sure to keep things professional and always think of the common company good.

show up

Not showing up and delivering only means you have fallen victim to the pessimism around you. Whether you like it or not, this is the make or break moment. No matter how bad things get, follow your goals, take action and show up everyday.

become a leader

The pessimistic workplace can be a very opportunistic ground for any willing leader. If you feel that your voice and concerns are not being heard and results continue to fall behind, this might be your opportunity. Start to motivate your colleagues to be better at their job. Their success is your success too.


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