- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate News Lessons
- Category: Business Lessons
- Written by Chris Cotter
There is an old saying: It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. The idiom can be applied to every day life. A recent research report indicates that "one bad apple" can quickly spoil the atmosphere of the office. An employee with a negative attitude brings conflict and stress to the workplace. A problem employee usually doesn't do an equal amount of work, is always unhappy and complaining, and bullies others.
Negative behavior, the researchers found, is much stronger than positive behavior. As such, several positive employees can't change the mood created by one negative teammate. In fact, it often leads to a downward spiral, with more and more employees becoming unhappier and unhappier as time continues. The news comes out of the University of Washington.
In order to solve the problem, companies need to deal with the negativity immediately. One answer is to have the employee work alone as much as possible. In effect, he should be isolated from other team members work-wise. Better yet, ensure that effective hiring practices prevent the problem from entering the building. Training managers to better determine potential hires helps, as do personality tests. These can identify and remove emotionally unstable or disagreeable people.
Case in point: The wife of the report's lead author noticed that when a problem employee at her office was sick for several days, the atmosphere quickly changed. People began to help one another. They played classical music on their radios. Many went out for drinks after work. However, once the problem returned, the toxic atmosphere returned, too.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Title: Speculate and/or discuss the contents of today's article from its title: "It Only Takes One Bad Apple."
Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.
- There is an old saying...
- An employee with a negative attitude brings...
- In order to solve the problem, companies...
- Better yet, ensure that effective hiring practices...
- However, once the problem returned...
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- Do you agree, that "one bad apple spoils the bunch?" Why/not?
- Have you ever had a similar experience as the example? What happened when the negative person was away?
- If your office were "toxic," would you consider quitting? Why/not?
- What other solutions do you think might work with a bad apple? Why?
- Do you think that a bad apple usually knows he creates a negative atmosphere? Why/not?
Google Search: Type "bad apple" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.