There are certain kinds of people who suck the life out of your day.    On an airplane, a screaming child can ruin a flight for even the most seasoned traveler.  Surly passengers and transit operators with negative attitudes won’t help get your day off on the right foot.   In the work place, a coworker or customer with a bad attitude is equally distracting and just as enervating.  They’re called cry babies!   Those constant complainers who bitch and moan about everything if you give them half the chance.  And frequently, they just can’t be avoided.
There’s not much you can do about an unhappy child on a plane.  You can wear earplugs or noise cancelling headphones, distract yourself with the onboard entertainment, or if you’re lucky, move your seat (a rarity these days!).   But ultimately you have no control over the situation!
Well, there are some adults who are equally colicky, who display a continuous attitude of negativity that you just can not get away from.  They come in all shapes, sizes ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.  Some want you to solve their problems for them, and they become agitated when you can’t or wont fix their problems.  Some just want someone to listen to them, and get ticked off when you’re not interested or otherwise don’t want to deal with their issues.   And there are those who wont directly confront the cause of their own dissatisfaction, and just want to complain about things.   Most irritating is when the problem is minor and they could solve the issue themselves, but would rather complain than fix it themselves.
Cry babies are just generally miserable people.  They are unhappy in their personal lives and their misery is transferred to almost everything they do.  They whine, complain and moan that everything sucks and they continually express their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the world and their lives.  These people are genuinely toxic.  Their proclivity for unhappiness will cast a pall over everyone around them.
So what do you do when you run into these people on the job?
Well, again, if you’re lucky, you may be able to steer clear, move to a different work space, change desks, or pass the crying customer to someone else (not recommended).
But too frequently cry babies infiltrate your life and it takes more than a shuffle of work spaces to steer clear.  A tactful approach will prove a lot more effective overall, even if you can’t make these people disappear from your life.
Frequently all the cry baby really wants is a little attention and acknowledgement.

Try to be polite, even when the cry baby is being intrusive.  Any rudeness you display will only make the situation worse and give the complainer something else to kvetch about.

Though you may not have the time or interest in listening to the complainer, express your regret the other person is going through tough times, but clearly state that you do not have the time to give them at present, and apologize for being abrupt. Then simply make yourself scarce.  If you’re compelled to listen, make them set an appointment with you so their issues don’t interfere with your work or other responsibilities.

If you can put a door between you and a cry baby, do it.  Sometimes, not always, that closed door will dissuade an unwanted interruption, and you’ll stand less of a chance of being the sounding board for their venting.

If the cry baby presents an ongoing disruption, don’t try to handle it yourself.  Let a supervisor or HR manager know a coworker is interfering with your ability to do your job, and let the higher-ups handle it.  Put your concerns in writing because not all supervisors will see an immediate need to get involved.  Remember that if the situation is making your workplace hostile or otherwise uncomfortable you have the right to express your concerns and firmly request that management intervene.  The employer may need to insist the cry baby attend counseling, or get help through the employee assistance program (EAP).  In a worse-case-scenario the employer may be forced to let the cry baby go.

Negativity from a cry baby breeds contempt, distractions and disruptions that make work and life difficult for all around them.  Don’t let others’ negativity affect you or your ability to retain your calm and productive workday (or any other part of your life!).  Solicit the participation and guidance of HR, management or, if necessary, legal council, and let the professionals deal directly with the cry babies.  The temperament and productivity of everyone will benefit.
For more tips on navigating around the non-producers at your job, improving your job search, and other career development concerns, please search this blog and visit:  hanklondon.com

By Hank

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