Author Topic: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home  (Read 3940 times)

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GreenEyedHawk

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I have a co-worker who complains constantly.  About everything.  Conversations with him often turn into a steady stream of complaints.  I'm so, so tired of it.  I really want to tell him to take his complaining and cram it, but that's not very polite and it would be unprofessional of me.  I'm just really tired of hearing it.  We all have issues in life that we have to deal with that are not so fun, but nobody else is constantly kvetching about their stuff.  Just him.

He has such a terrible attitude about everything and a bad attitude is infectious...it brings down everybody else and while we do take our work seriously, we do try to foster a more lighthearted, fun working environment.  People are generally cheery and there's usually a pretty good vibe in the shop.  My supervisory style leans heavily towards the idea that as long as everything is done right and in a timely manner, joking and fun are a-ok by me.  I don't like seeing the effect this one person's attitude has on everyone around him.  I've also observed that when my crew is miserable, they don't work as well.  I don't want them to be miserable.

I want to take this guy aside and explain to him that his attitude and complaints need to be left at the door, but I can't think of a nice way to do it. 
« Last Edit: August 08, 2014, 07:35:14 PM by GreenEyedHawk »
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PastryGoddess

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2014, 10:32:25 PM »
I have a co-worker (though this is not work-related so I put it here) who complains constantly.  About everything.  Conversations with him often turn into a steady stream of complaints.  I'm so, so tired of it.  I really want to tell him to take his complaining and cram it, but that's not very polite and it would be unprofessional of me.  I'm just really tired of hearing it.  We all have issues in life that we have to deal with that are not so fun, but nobody else is constantly kvetching about their stuff.  Just him.

He has such a terrible attitude about everything and a bad attitude is infectious...it brings down everybody else and while we do take our work seriously, we do try to foster a more lighthearted, fun working environment.  People are generally cheery and there's usually a pretty good vibe in the shop.  My supervisory style leans heavily towards the idea that as long as everything is done right and in a timely manner, joking and fun are a-ok by me.  I don't like seeing the effect this one person's attitude has on everyone around him.  I've also observed that when my crew is miserable, they don't work as well.  I don't want them to be miserable.

I want to take this guy aside and explain to him that his attitude and complaints need to be left at the door, but I can't think of a nice way to do it. 

This sounds like an Ask a Manager question.  I'd also be interested in hearing ideas.  I may have to start working with a negative Nelly on a new project, luckily 95% of the work is done from home. 

TurtleDove

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 11:07:41 PM »
I would be direct. Just tell him to knock off the negative speak.

YummyMummy66

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2014, 05:04:55 AM »
Am I correct in assuming that you are his supervisor?

There is no nice way.  He is damaging your whole department and the work they put out.

You take him in your office or somewhere private and tell him to stop. 

Most companies or insurances have resources.  You could go about it this way, "Jim, it seems you are having a rough time.  We do have resources that can help you deal with these issues."  And outline those resources that your companies' insurance provides.     If he balks, "Jim, your attitude is affecting this whole office and their work ethic.  I cannot have that.  It is ok to gripe once in a while, "hey, we all do it", but not on a constant, daily basis". 

You can also nip him in the bud so to speak,  when you hear him complaining, somehow walk by and casually, jokingly mention, "Oh, I am so sorry Jim you feel this way again today!   Cheer up!  Hey, is that report done?"   Bean dip.   A lot.  Each and every time.  I would hope that he would soon get the hint to stop.   Then, if this does not work, do the above.

You can also talk to the other employees about ways to deflect Jim.  (or whatever his name is).  If Jim starts in, "Oh, sorry to hear that.  Well, gotta get back to work.  Talk to you later!".   Don't let him finish.  Don't let him hardly start to complain. 

Sun and Shadow

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2014, 05:49:15 AM »
The problem is some complainers are hard to deflect.  One I worked with several years ago quite literally followed me around the shop floor complaining for so long and in such a determined way that I ducked into the ladies room to get away from him.  If I hadn't, I was reasonably sure he would have followed me back to my desk and complained some more.

I hope the OP does find a way to get him to complain less.  I'm quite capable of making myself feel miserable on my own without dealing with someone who seems determined to make everyone around him as miserable as he is.

MrTango

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2014, 07:42:15 AM »
I would be direct. Just tell him to knock off the negative speak.

Agreed.  Being polite does not require niceness.  "Co-worker, I have work to do and I don't have the time to listen to you whine."

spookycatlady

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2014, 08:00:21 AM »
I really like YummyMummy's approach.  It's polite and respectful and treats him seriously.  He might not realize that his complaints are being heard seriously...

I used to complain a lot because I thought it was funny, but eventually the complaints lost their humour and I was just venting.  After a few months of this, I went for coffee with a friend who said in plain language, "I can't remember the last time you said anything positive.  Are you okay?"  I learned to check my superfluous complaints at the door.  Genuine work concerns get addressed, but I don't just whine anymore.

Here's hoping that he's a reasonably self-aware person and having someone mention it will shake him out.

If he's not?  I do like putting the onus right back on to the complainer: "Okay, that's valid.  What are you going to do about it?"  Repeat, ad naseum

Goog

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2014, 08:38:33 AM »
I had a coworker like this once, and I did go to my supervisor and told her that it was really draining and hard on morale to listen to her complain about every little thing.  Plus, she was snotty and condescending, with no reason, since she was the new kid and was still learning.  And it was just a really bad work environment to be in.  Let's just say supervisor wasn't surprised to hear what I said.  ::)  However, coworker seemed to be like teflon, and really proved the squeeky wheel theory; she definitely got 'more' than the rest of us in terms of accolates, promotions, etc. even though she didn't have the experience, education or knowledge level that some of us had.

One thing that I did point out though....we were on a help desk, and she would sometimes complain about customers.  We all did, but not to her degree.  And I pointed out that with the way she complains about the customers and coworkers, it really made me wonder what she was saying about ME behind MY back when I wasn't there.  And that was definitely NOT good for morale or the work environment.

ScubaGirl

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2014, 09:42:08 AM »
I've used the "What are you going to do about it?" to success a few times. 

I work with a gentleman whom I refer to (in my head) as the "Human Eeyore".  Thankful I don't work closely with him.  He is a nice enough guy but he is never positive about anything.  It is like he is afraid he'll jinx himself or something.

mime

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2014, 10:18:02 AM »
I've found the persistent approach of suggesting solutions works well for me:

Suppose I keep hearing: "I'm so frustrated with the way Adam documents these transactions"
Then I suggest: "why don't you talk to him about it?"

The next time I hear the same complaint, I ask "didn't you talk to him about it? You can't expect anything to change if you don't say anything to him about this."

It seems to me that this puts some kind of onus on the complainer that they don't really want, so they learn not to complain to me... at least not about that particular topic.

If I get an entire rundown of complaints all at once, then I'm likely to say (in an inquisitive rather than snotty tone) "then why are you working here? Is there anything you like about the place?"

bopper

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2014, 02:06:09 PM »
I have a co-worker (though this is not work-related so I put it here) who complains constantly.  About everything.  Conversations with him often turn into a steady stream of complaints.  I'm so, so tired of it.  I really want to tell him to take his complaining and cram it, but that's not very polite and it would be unprofessional of me.  I'm just really tired of hearing it.  We all have issues in life that we have to deal with that are not so fun, but nobody else is constantly kvetching about their stuff.  Just him.

He has such a terrible attitude about everything and a bad attitude is infectious...it brings down everybody else and while we do take our work seriously, we do try to foster a more lighthearted, fun working environment.  People are generally cheery and there's usually a pretty good vibe in the shop.  My supervisory style leans heavily towards the idea that as long as everything is done right and in a timely manner, joking and fun are a-ok by me.  I don't like seeing the effect this one person's attitude has on everyone around him.  I've also observed that when my crew is miserable, they don't work as well.  I don't want them to be miserable.

I want to take this guy aside and explain to him that his attitude and complaints need to be left at the door, but I can't think of a nice way to do it. 

This sounds like an Ask a Manager question.  I'd also be interested in hearing ideas.  I may have to start working with a negative Nelly on a new project, luckily 95% of the work is done from home.

http://www.askamanager.org/search-results?q=negative%20attitudes

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2014, 03:39:24 PM »
I have used the "yes, I know," to cut them off (I'm the supervisor), and immediately dive into bean dip territory.
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PastryGoddess

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2014, 03:48:16 PM »
I have a co-worker (though this is not work-related so I put it here) who complains constantly.  About everything.  Conversations with him often turn into a steady stream of complaints.  I'm so, so tired of it.  I really want to tell him to take his complaining and cram it, but that's not very polite and it would be unprofessional of me.  I'm just really tired of hearing it.  We all have issues in life that we have to deal with that are not so fun, but nobody else is constantly kvetching about their stuff.  Just him.

He has such a terrible attitude about everything and a bad attitude is infectious...it brings down everybody else and while we do take our work seriously, we do try to foster a more lighthearted, fun working environment.  People are generally cheery and there's usually a pretty good vibe in the shop.  My supervisory style leans heavily towards the idea that as long as everything is done right and in a timely manner, joking and fun are a-ok by me.  I don't like seeing the effect this one person's attitude has on everyone around him.  I've also observed that when my crew is miserable, they don't work as well.  I don't want them to be miserable.

I want to take this guy aside and explain to him that his attitude and complaints need to be left at the door, but I can't think of a nice way to do it. 

This sounds like an Ask a Manager question.  I'd also be interested in hearing ideas.  I may have to start working with a negative Nelly on a new project, luckily 95% of the work is done from home.

http://www.askamanager.org/search-results?q=negative%20attitudes

 :D

Marguette

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2014, 04:26:21 PM »
Hey, itís Friday Open Thread day on Ask a Manager Ė you could post the question there right now.

Also, like YummyMummy mentioned, itís not clear whether youíre his peer or his supervisor.

Lynn2000

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Re: Need a nice way to tell someone to leave their attitude at home
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2014, 06:55:35 PM »
If you're his supervisor, I think you can take him aside and say seriously, "Jim, I'm sure you don't realize it, but a lot of what you talk about at work is complaints and other negativity. I've noticed that this brings the morale of the entire crew down, and then you guys don't work as well. I need you to stop this behavior." You could also take the tactic of being concerned--you complain a lot, are things okay, do you need help? As someone else said, it may be that he doesn't realize how often he complains, and that pointing it out will help him to curb it.

If you're not his supervisor, you can still try the concerned approach. Or, what has worked for me with most of the complainers at my office, is to complain right back. It sounds counter-intuitive, but for whatever reason the two biggest complainers I knew were also very self-centered and really just wanted to hear themselves talk and have someone's attention. If I started making my own complaints, even in the guise of conversation--"I know, right? I got this ridiculous bill myself just the other day..."--they very quickly got bored and went off to do something else.

It worked really well with my one co-worker, and it works about 60% of the time with my boss. I've tried everything that seems safe with my boss, even "What are you going to do about it?" To which she often answers, "Oh nothing, I'm just complaining." And what do you say to that when it's your boss? ::)
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