Dealing with the Office Downer

Michele Warg
Posted by

The workplace can be stressful enough without employees who are constantly negative, moody or sullen. Co-workers who pessimistic, cynical or gloomy tend to bring down the morale of the office and typically make interactions uncomfortable or unpleasant. Find out how to deal with the office downer and turn your workplace back into a positive environment.

1. Listen to His Concerns

When the office downer comes to you with complaints, force yourself to be empathetic from the start. Take the time to listen to his issues, and determine whether the employee actually has merit to feel negatively about the situation. If so, try to put yourself in the employee's shoes before deciding the best action to take.

2. Find a Solution

If your co-worker actually does have reason to be concerned, help him reach a resolution that works for everyone involved. Be proactive yet professional in your interactions. Ask for his input on how to move forward, and find out what his desired solution is.

3. Change the Subject

If the office downer is spoiling your day with negative talk about assignments, co-workers or anything else that irks him, find a new topic to discuss that isn't so sensitive. Ask him about his plans for the weekend, or make an observation about the weather. Once the subject is changed and his negativity diminishes, excuse yourself to get back to work.

4. Keep Him Occupied

Sometimes, the office downer has been at the company for a long time and is starting to feel burnt out or unappreciated. If you're in a higher position than the employee and have the authority, give him a new project that draws on his strengths and experiences with the organization. This keeps him busy, gives him less time to complain and makes him feel more valuable.

5. Stand Up to Him

If the negative co-worker's behavior continues to become disruptive to the office, it's time to confront him. Sit down face-to-face with the employee, and explain why his behavior is unprofessional and unacceptable.

6. Survey Your Own Behavior

If you're spending a lot of time around the office downer, assess your own behavior and thoughts to ensure you're not adopting his poor attitude or allowing his negativity to take control of your own emotions.

7. Ask for Help

If these strategies aren't working and the employee's negative attitude persists, it may be time to enlist the help of others. Discuss the behavior with co-workers, and find out whether they are having the same issues with the office downer. Talk to your manager about the bad behavior, or report it to human resources.

Don't let the office downer cause discord in your work environment. Find out how to deal with negative behavior constructively to improve morale and contribute to more positive interactions between co-workers.

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch