The 3 Levels of Negativity: How Do You Rank?

Malandro Consulting Communication Rules

From the new book Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out


Do negative conversations prevent you (and others) from doing your best work?

No one wants to think that he or she is a negative person. We reserve this label to describe our co-workers or friends. You may not realize that you are making toxic comments or silently endorsing negative comments. But these behaviors hurt you just the same.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t join in with the complainers and backstabbers,” take a closer look at your behavior by answering the following questions.


communication negativity


The questions you answered above correspond to the 3 levels of negativity:

Level 1—Occasional Venting: You blow off steam by venting to others. Your normal optimism is outweighed by your frustration and you just want someone who will listen so you can get back on track.

Level 2—Habitual Negativity: You constantly complain and focus on what’s not working. You’re fixated on what others should or should not do. You are resigned that despite your best efforts nothing will ever change.

Level 3—Taking Sides and Building Camps: You intentionally try to convert others to your negative view by engaging people to be your co-conspirators. You are not a bad person; you’re just highly frustrated. Your unproductive communication damages your relationships and your future.

It’s not easy to confront your own negativity. Denial is always our best defense.

Strip away the judgment about yourself and ask the question: “Are my behaviors undermining my effectiveness?


Anti Blog


Dr. Loretta Malandro is the CEO of the Malandro Consulting Group ( and the author of several landmark business communication books including: Fearless LeadershipSay It Right the First Time, and her new book, “Speak Up, Show Up, and Stand Out: The 9 Communication Rules You Need to Succeed”.