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Negativity Bias in Corporates

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Positivity and Negativity are like two sides of a coin. While positivity motivates us to feel good and encouraged, negativity brings in resentment. Even though these feelings have their own effects, the impact we have through these feelings is different. If we receive the same intensity of positivity and negativity, even though we should perceive them with the same quantum, we behave otherwise because of what we call ‘Negativity Bias’.

As per Wikipedia, ‘Negativity bias’ and ‘Negativity effect’ is a notion that even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one's psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things.

Examples- Negativity bias is so severe in Corporate, and of course in our personal lives too, those good colleagues become enemies, a very good senior is misjudged to be an arrogant one, ultimately severely impacting the team’s work and growth. There are times where employees take the issues very personally and become egoistic. Ultimately all the good stuff and healthy relations built till then go in vain.

What are the Effects of Negativity bias?

  • One negative issue can nullify multiple positive things- We are so hardwired for the negativity that we often forget the good one has always done for us in the past. Thus, a positive thing of very great impact can be easily nullified by a slight negative issue.

  • Severe impact on our decision making- When we favor the negative, the decisions that we make based on those overpowering feelings are mostly going to be imprecise.

  • There is a great impact on our behavior too. In fact, it forces us to look at our colleagues negatively, and behave aggressively

  • Leads to heated discussions in team meetings- When we are in the preconceived notion of negativity for a person, it is difficult to control the emotional turmoil and act neutrally towards him/ her. We reflect that in our speech, tone, or gesture, which may lead to a heated discussion.

Most importantly, our behavior is impacted the most, which in turn impacts our subsequent action-reactions. Even small mistakes, if not carefully handled, becomes a major problem because this effect ultimately affecting us and our behavior with everyone. So, beware of this problem.

Check How do you stop Negativity Bias:

Understand the impact of this psychological behavior, make changes in your dealings, and implement them. Here is how you can stop negativity bias-

A) Make sure you are aware of you have felt inside-out and understood the actual impact of positive and negative things

B) Every time you encounter a negative issue, give the benefit of the doubt. Think through, when you were in a similar situation or when you are the receiver. If so, recollect what you did and what you expected from others. This helps in better understanding of the situation

C) Recollect the positives received from the same person, and emphasize how it benefitted you

D) Share your problems and negative effects with a person who is not associated with the situation and your company to get an outside perspective

E) When the corporate environment is negative, find alternative ways to mitigate them

F) Introspect the issue, realize the importance of what matters and what does not.

G) Train yourself not to be disturbed by the negatives, and try to include positives in your thinking about the situation, the person(s) involved

Lastly, if the situation is not controlled, seek external help. Overall, mitigating the effect of negativity bias is very critical. Also, it is equally important to make others aware of this bias. Otherwise, you could also be trapped by their behavior.

Be aware!!!

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