Author Topic: How to deal with very negative coworker?  (Read 4436 times)

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rachellenore

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How to deal with very negative coworker?
« on: July 11, 2013, 10:28:03 PM »
Hey guys, this is probably going to be a (well-formatted!) wall of text. I don't even know if there is a solution. I partly want to vent, and on the off chance that someone knows how to deal with it, that's great.

Okay so background. I've worked with coworker for over 2 years. We only really got close enough to be friends this year. This guy is bipolar and unmedicated because he claims he can't afford it and refuses to believe the free clinic can help him. He's 30 and lives with his parents because he says he has to take care of them, they're also unmedicated and have a ton of problems, and he has two younger siblings who live in the house and don't help out.

We're also friends with another coworker. We all used to hang out together but lately it's just her and I doing everything. We try to get the male coworker to go out with us or to visit or just do anything with us and he always has some excuse about having to be home or his mom will freak out. So her and I feel bad that he's always in a bad mood, but it's like, we're doing what we can to try to take his mind off it, and I personally am almost out of patience. I feel like friendship needs to be a two-way street. I have anxiety and depression but I treat it, I don't let it affect my friendships.

So the problem now. Our work isn't particularly skilled, it's just rather boring. So the smartest thing to do is to talk to make time go faster. The problem comes into play when this male coworker has a bad day the night before and will just sulk and brood literally the entire work day. He'll put on his headphones and leave me with no one to talk to except my partner who barely speaks English. I love her, she's great, but we literally can't have a conversation unless it's about work since she's learned those English words out of necessity. Our other coworker friend works in a different part of the room so I can't talk to her.

We had our performance reviews last week. Our boss called out the male worker for his attitude affecting morale. He didn't agree with it. I told him personally that it made my day less fun when he's not around to talk to, but apparently it didn't sink in.

It's getting to the point where I want to talk to our supervisor about our friend's poor attitude. But I know if I say anything, he'll feel like I'm betraying him because he doesn't like our supervisor. I just don't know what to do. I like my job, but he makes the day go by so slowly when he's in a bad mood, which is 4/5 days. If this were any other coworker, I'd go to the supervisor, but him being a friend severely complicates it.

Anyone have any ideas for dealing with this extremely temperamental friend? Did I explain myself well? Please ask questions if I didn't make something clear, this is always swirling around in my head and I probably left out a few things to clarify it.

LeveeWoman

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2013, 10:43:44 PM »
What's important: getting paid to support yourself, or dealing with this toxic person?

Danika

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2013, 11:34:40 PM »
Well, you're there to work, not to be his shoulder to cry on. I'd just let him sulk and ignore him.

Are you allowed to bring your own headphones? That might entertain you. Personally, I'd try to get the foreign coworker to teach me her language, whatever that is. I'd try to learn new phrases and how to pronounce things.

Slartibartfast

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2013, 11:42:25 PM »
I'd start bringing headphones, take up a podcast or two, and not worry about him.

Charliebug

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2013, 11:47:56 PM »
I have a little insight into being friends with someone who is untreated bipolar but it is beyond the scope of this forum and only offers you my knowledge of what friendship with her was like. I will tell you this though, having been in the workforce for many years it is best to keep your distance from anyone who is "in the radar" of management so to speak. Your job is made better by talking with your coworkers but it is not PART of your job. You need to find other ways to make your job satisfying for you without leaning on somebody else. I would suggest playing your own music on your iPhones or whatever and chatting with others when you can- walk away from this guy if you cannot run. He is not good for you and you cannot offer him any help until he wants it.

rachellenore

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2013, 01:19:35 AM »
Thanks guys, you all pretty much echo what my husband's been saying.

perpetua

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2013, 04:25:30 AM »

So the problem now. Our work isn't particularly skilled, it's just rather boring. So the smartest thing to do is to talk to make time go faster. The problem comes into play when this male coworker has a bad day the night before and will just sulk and brood literally the entire work day. He'll put on his headphones and leave me with no one to talk to except my partner who barely speaks English. I love her, she's great, but we literally can't have a conversation unless it's about work since she's learned those English words out of necessity. Our other coworker friend works in a different part of the room so I can't talk to her.

Quote
I like my job, but he makes the day go by so slowly when he's in a bad mood, which is 4/5 days. If this were any other coworker, I'd go to the supervisor, but him being a friend severely complicates it.

Much as I sympathise with your position of being in a boring job, it isn't your friend's responsibility to entertain you during the workday. I agree with the other suggestions to find some other way to help the time pass.

DottyG

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2013, 02:37:21 PM »

So the problem now. Our work isn't particularly skilled, it's just rather boring. So the smartest thing to do is to talk to make time go faster. The problem comes into play when this male coworker has a bad day the night before and will just sulk and brood literally the entire work day. He'll put on his headphones and leave me with no one to talk to except my partner who barely speaks English. I love her, she's great, but we literally can't have a conversation unless it's about work since she's learned those English words out of necessity. Our other coworker friend works in a different part of the room so I can't talk to her.

Quote
I like my job, but he makes the day go by so slowly when he's in a bad mood, which is 4/5 days. If this were any other coworker, I'd go to the supervisor, but him being a friend severely complicates it.

Much as I sympathise with your position of being in a boring job, it isn't your friend's responsibility to entertain you during the workday. I agree with the other suggestions to find some other way to help the time pass.


This was my thought as I read the story as well.


MrTango

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2013, 03:17:01 PM »
Ordinarily I would suggest going to your supervisor with your concerns, but I see a number of issues with that in your specific situation, not all of them necessarily etiquette related:

1) Employees' performance reviews should be no one's business except the employee, supervisor/manager/boss, HR, and up the chain of command from there.  There is no reason that an employee should be aware of the contents of their peers' reviews.

2) It's not really his responsibility to be social.  As long as he's doing his job and not interfering with anyone else's work on the sulky days, I don't think it's a problem that he puts on headphones and grinds away at his work.

3) Any issues an employee brings up to a supervisor/manager/HR concerning the employee's peer should be kept confidential so that the employee being complained about doesn't know who (if anyone) made the complaint.  Ideally, the boss would take the complaint, document that a complaint was made, and then observe the situation to see if the complaint is valid or not.  Any disciplinary action taken can then be done based on the boss's direct observation.  Unfortunately, given issue 1 above, I wouldn't necessarily trust the boss to maintain confidentiality.

My suggestion: Invest in a pair of headphones or see how much english you can teach your other co-worker (and how much of her language you can pick up from her).

Surianne

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2013, 05:24:38 PM »

So the problem now. Our work isn't particularly skilled, it's just rather boring. So the smartest thing to do is to talk to make time go faster. The problem comes into play when this male coworker has a bad day the night before and will just sulk and brood literally the entire work day. He'll put on his headphones and leave me with no one to talk to except my partner who barely speaks English. I love her, she's great, but we literally can't have a conversation unless it's about work since she's learned those English words out of necessity. Our other coworker friend works in a different part of the room so I can't talk to her.

Quote
I like my job, but he makes the day go by so slowly when he's in a bad mood, which is 4/5 days. If this were any other coworker, I'd go to the supervisor, but him being a friend severely complicates it.

Much as I sympathise with your position of being in a boring job, it isn't your friend's responsibility to entertain you during the workday. I agree with the other suggestions to find some other way to help the time pass.

I agree.  I hardly think that not wanting to goof off with you gives him a "poor attitude" and it's completely inappropriate to complain to management about him doing his job with headphones on instead of entertaining you.

Perfect Circle

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2013, 06:56:23 PM »
You are there to do a job, not to be entertained.

I think it's incredibly inappropriate if your boss has shared details of performance reviews.

I would imagine it to be much better if he shuts himself into his own headphone world when feeling down.
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Olympia

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2013, 09:58:05 PM »
You are there to do a job, not to be entertained.

I agree. The co-worker has no obligation to make small talk, even if it makes the day go faster for his co-workers.

Unless you're leaving out information, it seems to me that there are no issues with the quality of his work. It seems to me that his not choosing to be your friend is rather a small thing.

pharmagal

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2013, 10:27:45 PM »
This may be an unpopular opinion. 

But have you considered the possibility that maybe he's not interested in being friends any more.  I know in the past when I have distanced myself from a few people that I no longer wish to pursue a friendship with, that this is one of the ways I have done it.  Especially with work mates when I don't want to hang out outside of work any more for whatever reason.

It's less likely to cause drama than telling them that I just don't want to be more than workmates.

LadyClaire

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2013, 10:33:29 PM »
I feel sorry for the guy. He sounds like he has a lot on his plate, and now he's getting bad marks on his performance review because he "makes the day less fun" by sometimes not wanting to talk to his co-workers?

If he's doing his work, and he's not behaving badly (mood swings, lashing out, getting angry and using inappropriate language for the workplace) then having days where he prefers to not make small talk doesn't really make him a bad employee.

Harriet Jones

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Re: How to deal with very negative coworker?
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2013, 11:10:02 PM »
I would find it mentally exhausting to have to maintain a conversation for several hours every day.   

If not being entertaining is his only work flaw, just let him be.  Co-workers don't have to be friends, but you can still keep it pleasant and polite...