A woman who works with me continually focuses on the negative. For example, she repeatedly complains about how she financially struggles to make ends meet. I offer advice, but she seems more interested in rehashing the same old gripes than actually doing something about her situation. It’s not that I lack compassion for her, but her negativity has become a distraction in the workplace. How would you suggest I handle this?
Dear Mood Management,
When someone in our life chooses to repeatedly complain, yet refuses to take positive action, everyone feels drained. In the workplace, this behavior costs teams productivity, focus and morale. The next time your colleague starts going down the same negative road, simply say, “May I make an observation?” Most individuals with respond, “Yes.” Continue…”I’ve noticed over the past few months when you share your financial challenges, I make suggestions thinking I’m supporting you. Yet, we find ourselves back here in a similar conversation without anything having changed. This pattern concerns me, as it’s getting in the way of our focus, productivity and office morale. Moving forward, I think it best we refrain from these conversations in the workplace. Please know I always have a listening ear should you need support implementing action with regard to your situation.”
If this confident candor makes you uncomfortable, consider you’re modeling the exact same behavior you desire your employee to stop. Going round and round, offering advice you know won’t be heard or implemented. Instead, take action using this new strategy. Will you feel uncomfortable? Perhaps, but comfort and growth are incompatible, and you need to model the behavior you want from others. Who knows? It may inspire her to take positive steps to remedy her own situation.