Whomp whomp whomp. Do you ever just feel like you hear that in your head when you approach the desk of a particular employee? A Debbie Downer can come in many different forms: the complainer, the constantly depressed, the sluggish and unmotivated, or the unhopeful. All of the above can be quite draining and detrimental and take a toll on workplace morale. Here are a few tips on how to engage and call that negativity to attention:
Tips for Working with a Debbie Downer
Don’t Ignore Them. Typically, office downers might have something on their mind they probably want to share but are instead letting their body language, expressions, and maybe not-so-subtle words speak for themselves. Ignoring this behavior and brushing it off only adds tension. Talk to them about what’s up. Confront it rather than letting it build and cause rifts.
Explain It. Ask them if you can speak to them and mention that their negativity is causing some problems or simply some poor morale around the office. For example, they might be even indirectly hurting others with their negativity. Just letting them know might be enough to help them turn their attitude around, but also listen and address ways you can help make the workplace better for them. Display genuine concern.
Give Them Resources. It might be something work-related that you can work together to fix; if so, listen and offer solutions for how this can be fixed or how they could be happier in their job. It might also be something personal. In this case, help them find benefits resources or outside resources that could aid them in getting help and attention that they need.
Surround Them. Place your office Debbie Downer in a group of upbeat, positive people. Unless they’re a straight-up SNL Debbie Downer, positivity can really be contagious and they may really enjoy working with people that bring them up and it may ultimately improve their persona.
Adjust Them. If the individual at hand just really isn’t clicking in their group or team, consider placing them in a different atmosphere or team environment where they may perform similar duties in a less interactive setting. Prove to them that you care about their wellbeing at work and want to make them happy.
If the problem persists…. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s just no cure for Debbie Downers. If the individual has really caused a problem in the workplace and the business is suffering because of this, termination may be necessary. No one’s lousy mood or outlook is helpful in any way to their team members.
Keep an outlook for similar blogs to this in the future. In the mean time, read up on this recent post about working with not-so-pleasant people.