Author Topic: Mr. Negative  (Read 3389 times)

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elephantschild

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Mr. Negative
« on: May 15, 2013, 06:50:41 PM »
I know some of you know what kind of company I work for. I'm trying to be a bit less direct in this post, however, so I'm going to dance around the field a little.

My company is small. It's in a small-city area, it's not a major corporation, it's more community- based. We are not the smallest of our type, but we are not the big leagues.

Co-worker has been here for a few years. Co-worker apparently took the job as a stop-gap and now wants, desperately, to get out. He thinks he's worthy of the big leagues (and apparently has indeed done some work for them ... but he wants a full-time job. Frankly, I don't think he's good enough.)

So he's been incessantly bad-mouthing the place, the boss, the community non-stop. He's tried to get a young co-worker to quit, telling her how she'll be "stuck here" in this miserable area, how he's meant for better things, how he's had multiple job offers but is waiting for the big leagues, who won't take him because he "works for this joke of a place," about how he's "not even putting this (place)on his resume because no one will take him seriously." He's also a martyr, complaining frequently about how much wonderful work he does (when he really doesn't).

Boss knows that Mr. Negative is negative, but not how negative ... or that it's sometimes directed at him. (Frankly, there are some valid reasons to be negative that have to do with the corporation that owns us., which I think is what Boss thinks it's directed at.) In fact, Boss became annoyed at another co-worker who reported some of Mr. Negative's words by telling him "stop trying to get Mr. Negative in trouble."

Mr. Negative has become SO vicious that I'm starting to hear it leak out in his dealing with the community. Which could, of course, harm the job that rest of us are trying to do.

Now, it's not perfect here. But some of us are here because we LIKE the community-based stuff. Personally, I wouldn't take the "big leagues" for a lot of money. We're trying to make a difference here, to do things that matter, even if in a local way. But Mr. Negative has made it clear we're all miserable failures unless we want what he wants (and doesn't have) and go out and get it. (Nevermind that I've been here over a decade and I'm much happier with my life than he obviously is.  ::))

This guy is giving me an ulcer. I'm very, very close to simply letting him have it one day.

How can I handle this in a professional manner? Is my only choice ignoring him? I don't feel like I can say a word to Boss. I feel like I need to do something, not just because of my own feelings, but because he's going to start affecting community perception of a very community-type business if he keeps this up!

(Note: I can't go to HR. They're likely to just call up Mr. Negative and say "Elephantschild was badmouthing you!!!)
"But there was one Elephant -- a new Elephant -- an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions."
-- "Just So Stories," Rudyard Kipling

PastryGoddess

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2013, 07:07:17 PM »
I would bring up to boss the Mr. Negative's comments are being heard and discussed in the community.  Focus on how Mr. Negative comments can affect the organization as a whole rather than how they affect individual people.  (am I making sense here)

Like it or not Mr. Negative works for Non-Big League organization.  As a representative of NBLO how he acts and what he says reflects on them.  it doesn't matter how much he wants to work for BLO.  It's also pointless to bring up the fact that he is making himself look bad, since logic and reason probably don't factor into his thinking process. :)

Tea Drinker

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2013, 07:32:23 PM »
Maybe a jiu-jitsu approach of something like "I actually like it here. I know you don't, and I'm sorry you're not happy. But since you're trying to move on, why are you trying to convince everyone to apply for the few openings at Big-League Company?"

The alternative would be to bean-dip it, maybe with something like "you have a point, but my kids really like the local school/I don't miss the commute to the big city/the last time I moved was so horrible I'm never doing that again."
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

MrTango

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 07:33:40 PM »
I would suggest you bring this up in your chain of command.  Let them know that you've observed behaviors in this co-worker that are making it more difficult for other employees to interact with the community, and that his disparaging remarks about your company are having a negative effect on morale.

Also, if your company's employees are unionized, I would make a complaint to a union rep as well.

Keep the reports factual, mention specific dates, times, and places as much as you can, and make sure you document everything going forward so you can amend your report in the future.

(Edited to remove my assumption about the kind of "company" you work for.)

elephantschild

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2013, 08:58:51 PM »
No union. Boss' boss is as notoriously hands-off as he is. Escalating might just get me labeled as a trouble-maker with both.  :-\  (It's happened before with older regimes. All of whom I've outlasted. :))

I'm thinking about waiting for him to start again, fixing him with The Look and coldly saying that (1) I happen to like it here (2) small communities deserve the services of our sort of business too and (3) if he wants to leave, he knows where the door is. The last may be going too far and may turn his particular variety of poison tongue my way, which would not be good. Thoughts?
"But there was one Elephant -- a new Elephant -- an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions."
-- "Just So Stories," Rudyard Kipling

Amara

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2013, 09:56:15 PM »
Quote
Mr. Negative has become SO vicious that I'm starting to hear it leak out in his dealing with the community.

I'm wondering how you are hearing this. If you work for a nonprofit, is it from donors or other organizations? If it is a for-profit business, are those you are hearing it from trusted vendors or clients? The reason I ask is could one of these people let the boss know that Mr. Negativity's negative ongoing comments are making them re-evaluate their businesses' relationship with your company. In other words, if this goes unchecked they are seriously considering having nothing more to do with your company. If you boss hears this from outside he may realize how it can affect the bottom line and be much more likely to listen to the criticism and take a proactive stance to staunch the harm.

cicero

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2013, 11:44:11 PM »
Quote
Mr. Negative has become SO vicious that I'm starting to hear it leak out in his dealing with the community.

I'm wondering how you are hearing this. If you work for a nonprofit, is it from donors or other organizations? If it is a for-profit business, are those you are hearing it from trusted vendors or clients? The reason I ask is could one of these people let the boss know that Mr. Negativity's negative ongoing comments are making them re-evaluate their businesses' relationship with your company. In other words, if this goes unchecked they are seriously considering having nothing more to do with your company. If you boss hears this from outside he may realize how it can affect the bottom line and be much more likely to listen to the criticism and take a proactive stance to staunch the harm.
this.

I wouldn't even say anything about what Mr. N. Is saying to/around *you*; but I would say to boss or boss' boss ''x donor /y vendor mentioned this to me. It is affecting our org in the community. How do you want to handle?"

As for dealing with Mr. N. - I wouldn't. Stop listening to him and effectively just bean dip:

Mr. N: ''So they are so stupid here and I'm just waiting for Big Org to...''
You: ''right. So where is the report on Purple cats? Great, thanks''
Mr N: ''so I am too good for this rathole..''
You: ''gotta finish the end-of-year report.''
 
« Last Edit: May 15, 2013, 11:50:57 PM by cicero »

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CharlieBraun

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2013, 11:01:04 AM »
My mom was a teacher.  She had a fellow teacher who was a Mr. Negative, always moaning about how much better he'd be treated/paid/appreciated in the "outside" world.  Mom finally had had enough one day, and she said something like "Be sure to check your resume for spelling, you'll find that it counts."  With a patented chilly smile that I so wish I could imitate.  And that was it.

I think he retired from the school system last year...but I do know that he never said another word about it around my mom.
"We ate the pies."

lilfox

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2013, 02:51:03 PM »
My mom was a teacher.  She had a fellow teacher who was a Mr. Negative, always moaning about how much better he'd be treated/paid/appreciated in the "outside" world.  Mom finally had had enough one day, and she said something like "Be sure to check your resume for spelling, you'll find that it counts."  With a patented chilly smile that I so wish I could imitate.  And that was it.

I think he retired from the school system last year...but I do know that he never said another word about it around my mom.

The very definition of coldly polite, I love it!  I'd suggest any of the bean-dipping moves to him directly, and definitely if his negativity is leaking into the community, your boss needs to be aware.  What the boss does with it, unfortunately that's out of your hands but at least you will have tried to do something.

I have a friend, who is a former coworker, and was the resident Ms. negative.  She finally quit and guess what... Is still negative and harsh on any aspect of our field that doesn't match her expectations (which are to be recognized as a leader in the field and have money and offers thrown at her).  Some people are just happy to be miserable.

Also, I love the fact that OP's Mr. N is threatening to leave his current multi-year job off his resume... That large employment history gap will impress the Big Leagues, I'm sure.

TootsNYC

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2013, 03:57:27 PM »
You know what might shut him down?

"You seem really unhappy. What are you going to do about it?"

Ask as if you're actually interested in a real answer.

If he says something about working somewhere else, then ask interested questions like, "Have you sent your resumé out?" and stuff like that.

Lynn2000

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2013, 04:19:18 PM »
Quote
Mr. Negative has become SO vicious that I'm starting to hear it leak out in his dealing with the community.

I'm wondering how you are hearing this. If you work for a nonprofit, is it from donors or other organizations? If it is a for-profit business, are those you are hearing it from trusted vendors or clients? The reason I ask is could one of these people let the boss know that Mr. Negativity's negative ongoing comments are making them re-evaluate their businesses' relationship with your company. In other words, if this goes unchecked they are seriously considering having nothing more to do with your company. If you boss hears this from outside he may realize how it can affect the bottom line and be much more likely to listen to the criticism and take a proactive stance to staunch the harm.
this.

I wouldn't even say anything about what Mr. N. Is saying to/around *you*; but I would say to boss or boss' boss ''x donor /y vendor mentioned this to me. It is affecting our org in the community. How do you want to handle?"

As for dealing with Mr. N. - I wouldn't. Stop listening to him and effectively just bean dip:

Mr. N: ''So they are so stupid here and I'm just waiting for Big Org to...''
You: ''right. So where is the report on Purple cats? Great, thanks''
Mr N: ''so I am too good for this rathole..''
You: ''gotta finish the end-of-year report.''

POD to all of this. Make it not about you "badmouthing" Mr. Negative, but rather you reporting a concerning thing you heard about your business from an important outside party. Depending on the nature of the comment you might even be able to avoid mentioning Mr. Negative's name: "Vendor X told me that the last time they dealt with us, the employee they talked to was really negative and kept saying XYZ, and Vendor X was really put off by that. I'm not sure who they talked to, but it seems detrimental to our company to let that happen again."

Then Boss might ask Vendor X who they talked to or check the records, or might give everyone a reminder to stop complaining to the world at large, which may or may not shut Mr. Negative up. Hopefully if Mr. Negative's name comes up enough times Boss will do something about it.

As for dealing with Mr. Negative personally, I would use a combination of beandip and asking (in a sincere way) what he plans to do about it. Like, "Yeah, I've heard you say that before, that must be very frustrating. Have you checked Big-League's website for openings you could apply to? Do you need any help proofing your resume?" Or make assumptions based on what a reasonable person would do: "Yeah, that must be very frustrating. Do you have any interviews lined up? Oh, I just assumed you'd applied for other positions, you've been so down on this one for so long."

Also, I have found that a lot of people who like to talk/complain a lot, will stop and get back to work once *I* start sharing something with them. They don't want a conversation, even with someone who agrees with them, they just want to rant to a warm body. This isn't foolproof, but it's worked on several people. Let Mr. Negative complain for a few lines, then jump in with your own complaint about something for several lines--anything that could be construed as part of the same conversation, like the local grocery store's lack of XYZ food or something--and see if that makes him go away.
~Lynn2000

chibichan

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2013, 07:09:00 PM »
Can you counter by being over-the-top positive ? You know... big goofy grins and gushing about how Awesomely Great your job/life/community is ?

Fire-hose him with every happy , sappy cliche you can thing of .

The glass is half full ! Make lemonade ! It's darkest before the dawn , smell those roses , carpe that diem and take up whistling " Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life " from Monty Python's Life of Brian .

He is trying to infect you with his misery . Prove to him that he can't and eventually he will avoid you .

Or , if you don't want to do the happy route , simply tell him " Stop trying to make me as miserable as you are ."

If he is truly poisoning the organization , I would start collecting the most damaging statements and then send an anonymous e-mail from an unidentifiable computer , like an internet cafe or library. Entitle it " Things we hear around the office " or " Maybe this guy needs to move on ". Keep it short , just a list of his most vicious comments . They will be able to figure out the rest by themselves .
The key to avoiding trouble is to learn to recognize it from a distance.

elephantschild

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2013, 09:45:42 PM »
Sorry for vanishing; it's been a ridiculously busy few days.

I've tried a bit of the over-the-top positive stuff. It either seems to work ... or ramp him up. Oy.

Toots, I like that idea, but the fact is, mostly I just really want him to shut up at this point. It's a thought, though. I mean, he took this job. He loves to go on about how he's not tied down (not-so-subtle back-handed slap at my family-and-kids status, which is unique in this department/office), and I've wondered why the heck he really just won't leave if he's so miserable.

To those who asked: I know it's leaking out because we work in an open-plan office and I hear him on the phone. (It's impossible not to, especially when he gets angry and his voice rises.) I don't know if it's different when Boss is working. (Boss and I work opposite hours; Negative's hours overlap both of ours.)
"But there was one Elephant -- a new Elephant -- an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions."
-- "Just So Stories," Rudyard Kipling

DollyPond

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2013, 10:47:03 PM »
I don't know if it's different when Boss is working. (Boss and I work opposite hours; Negative's hours overlap both of ours.)

Maybe when Boss is around he's Little Mr. Sunshine.  So Boss has no actual clue that he's badmouthing the company.

artk2002

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Re: Mr. Negative
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2013, 11:24:45 AM »
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain