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Negative Nelly Bites the Dust

Negative Nelly works as a house cleaner. Her attitude is contrary and she is angry. Not about anything, in particular, she is just tired, and bored and frustrated.

When you ask Negative Nelly why she is complaining and antagonistic she turns into a drama addict. First, it’s Chicken Little crying “The sky is falling” she’s the victim. Before you know it, Negative Nelly is arguing with and opposing everybody.

Today on Ask a House Cleaner we ask Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru how to handle Negative Nellie. The house cleaner training on today’s show is priceless.

Today’s show sponsor is https://HouseCleaning360.com

HouseCleaning360 is a business referral network for house cleaners and maids and housekeepers.

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Listen: Negative Nelly Bites the Dust

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Watch: Negative Nelly Bites the Dust


Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.

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Question: What Do I Do About My Negative Nelly Employee?

Negative Nelly house cleaner girl with attitudeToday’s question comes from a business owner who owns a house cleaning company. She has an employee who is a Negative Nelly.

Now, we all know Negative Nelly’s, right? They show up, they’re “Chicken Little,” the world is falling in on them. They’ve got all this drama, and all this chaos in their lives and they complain about everything.

Now she’s a great house cleaner but she’s super negative to work with. This employer asks, “How do I control the attitude and behavior of this employee? She’s a great worker but she’s negative and no one wants to work with her.”

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Answer: Set Boundaries Now for Negative Nelly

That’s an unfortunate situation and it does happen from time to time.

Employees Are PeopleNegative Nelly various people in different stages of emotion

Now, we have to realize as employers that we are hiring people. We’re not hiring robots we’re hiring people.

There are a lot of people that are suffering from a lot of things. And so we don’t know, but our employees could have challenging home lives.

They could have money problems, relationship problems, or problems with their teenage kids. Any of those things could make you go berserk and crazy.

Don’t Assume

It could be easy to come to work and think that the people that you work with are going to be understanding and can help you. 

And that’s not always true because unfortunately some of your co-workers are not mature. They have not worked through their own issues.

Negative Nelly is like cramming too many pieces of luggage in the trunk of carBringing Baggage to Work

Let’s say you are going through a tough time right now. You show up to work and you have all this baggage.

Then people that you’re trying to share this baggage with are like “Whoa! It’s too heavy with my own baggage. I can’t I can’t help you.”

 It is a dilemma because, with house cleaners, we work all day by ourselves. We clean and we don’t have a lot of human interaction.

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The Customer Is Not Your Therapist

And so when we see the customer, it’s easy to blab that stuff to them because it’s another human.

We think, “Maybe this person understands my pain and can help me through some of these things.”

The customer is not your therapist. And so you should not tell them any of your baggage. 

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Use Your Resources: Private Facebook Group for House Cleaners

And that’s one of the reasons that we created the private Facebook group for house cleaners.

If you’re having a day like that and you need a shoulder to cry on come to our Facebook group. Come cry on our shoulders. 

Because we all work alone every single day and we all know what you’re going through.

We are going through a lot in our group. We have disabled kids, elderly parents, divorces, bankruptcy, etc. We’re going through a whole bunch of stuff as a collective team. 

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Have Compassion

Your customers and your clients should not know those things. Now, an employee might come to you as the boss and spew all this stuff on you.

It is understandable that that would happen. And so, the first thing that I might request from you is that you have some compassion. You hired a human.

This human that you’re dealing with, is suffering. And so, put your arm around them and say listen “I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m not licensed as a therapist. I’m not even qualified to give you an answer, but I can sit here and I can listen.”

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You Are Not a Therapist

And be careful about giving advice because you are not a therapist.  You will be responsible for the advice that you give.

So, you want to make sure that you don’t give advice, but that you listen.

If you keep egging the question on further, it encourages them to delve into all their problems. You could spend hours with them when they could be working. 

So, you’re not a therapist. What you can be though, is a listening ear that can encourage this person. You should check in with this employee on a regular basis and just say, “Hey how are things going?”

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Be Brief

Try to use brief concise answers. And if there’s more, be understanding. Listen, but don’t encourage it and don’t stretch the conversation out. Because you don’t want it to take four and five hours of your time. Time is money when you are on the clock. 

So, I want you to be understanding and to be caring but don’t let their problems consume you. You have problems of your own.

You Are a Person Too

Negative Nelly, never let them see your hot buttons

There is another thing that I want you to be aware of.

If you have a negative employee that comes to you, you need to make sure they understand you are a person too. This could be your biggest challenge. 

Do not let your employees see your hot buttons. Say you have an employee who is making you mad. No one else wants to work with her because she is a negative Nelly. She is hard to get along with. 

We want to make sure that we do not communicate this information. 

The reason why is this. Say all her reviews are negative and no one wants to work with her. If you are difficult to work with, this will create a defensive working environment.

Thumbs Up Smiley spacer Savvy CleanerPositive Reinforcement

So, we want to catch her doing things right. This might be after the fact.

Say she’s gone home for the day and you check in with your customer. And the customer said “She did an amazing job. Man, she had this nasty attitude, but she did an amazing job.”

Then you want to text your employee.  Say “Hey I just got off the phone with Mrs. Peterson she said you did an amazing job of your work today. High five for a job well done.”

Now what that says is “Oh wow, someone appreciated my work.”

That’s positive reinforcement in a negative world.

I promise you this. Negative Nellies live in a negative world and they are expecting negative feedback.

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Positive Reinforcement Changes Attitude

They attract negative feedback. And so, when they get something that’s positive, that blows them away.

“You mean Mrs. Peterson that I yacked at, and I complained at, and I was snarky with, appreciated my work?”

Now, they have different feelings about Mrs. Peterson. And when they go back next time to Mrs. Peterson’s house guess what? They’re going to try a little bit harder.

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Don’t Let Them See Your Hot Buttons

You can also do this with your kids. It’s awesome. Because teenage kids especially, roll their eyes and say, “yeah whatever.”

They know what your hot buttons are. So they want to get even with you. Or they want to pay you back. So they go right to your hot buttons.

But if they don’t know what your hot buttons are, guess what? They can’t do that.

And it’s the same with employees. So sometimes we have to treat our employees like our teenage children. And we have to be aware that somethings make our blood boil. You need to be sure that they don’t see that. 

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Smile and Be Calm

Some of the most important conversations that I’ve had with employees are with a smile on my face and a calm voice.

I actually have to be conscoius about this. I have to slow my breathing down so that I don’t speak like I’m angry. Because when I get angry, I start talking fast.  You might do this too. 

Slow your breathing down. Put a smile on your face, and now you’re going to say whatever it is you have to say in a calm manner.

And they don’t know “Is she angry right now? Or is she happy with me?” And so, it transfers over as you being happy.

So, you have to make sure that you focus on the things that are positive, not the things that are negative. 

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Hire Positive People

My philosophy has always been hire slow and fire fast.

Be careful about the people that you hire because you want to attract positive people to you.

But if you have people that are just not working out. And they’re just negative, and you can’t turn them around. Say goodbye!

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See Ya!

Ta ta! You’ve got to say goodbye.

And help them find another job. If you can refer them to someone else, that’s great. And if you can’t refer them to someone else, wish them the best and ask them to stay in touch with you.

But you have to let those people go. They’re toxic, and it’s like poison in your organization. They will bring the whole organization down.

So, if you have a Negative Nelly in your business if they’re a great worker try to turn that around. Try to make that work.

And if you can’t. Two words: See ya!

 Alright, that’s it for today. And until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.

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During the shows we recommend services, sites, and products to help you improve your cleaning and grow your cleaning business. We have partnerships with these companies to provide you with discounts, and savings. By clicking on and buying from the links in the show notes, we may receive a commission which helps pay for the production costs of the show.

Support the show so we can continue to bring you free tips to improve your cleaning and help you grow your cleaning business.  THANK YOU!

About the Show

Learn how the show came to be, interesting facts about the show host, and other frequently asked questions about the show.

Resources For This Episode: 

Why Do I Keep Doing This!!?: End bad habits, negativity, and stress with self-hypnosis and NLP – http://amzn.to/2vzWDF0

Negaholics: How to Handle Negativity in the Workplace – http://amzn.to/2eGzywu

Bad Apples: Identity, Prevent & Manage Negative Behavior at Work – http://amzn.to/2uqII48

Crisp: Managing Negative People: Strategies for Success – http://amzn.to/2tCp5Zn

The Business of Listening – http://amzn.to/2uowUk8

Communication Skills for Leaders: Delivering a Clear and Consistent Message – http://amzn.to/2eGPTRN

Influencing Others: A Handbook of Persuasive Strategies – http://amzn.to/2tSOgSI

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Show Sponsor

SAVVY CLEANER – House Cleaner Training and Certification – https://savvycleaner.com

HOUSECLEANING360 – Referral database of the world’s most prominent home service providers and the homeowners they serve. https://housecleaning360.com

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