Sometimes all you need to do is listen

This question was posted onto a LinkedIn group ‘Some (if not all) of us have dealt with troublemakers, whiners, pessimists or other difficult co-workers or bosses. How do you keep negativity from infecting you at work?’

There were some answers you would expect to see, such as ‘I tend to avoid people like that as I don’t want to surround myself with people like that’ or ‘how a negative person can bring morale down and best to try and not speak / listen to them’.

I know there are people who are only happy when they are complaining about something but then there are others who just want / need someone to listen. You don’t have to offer an opinion, you don’t even have to understand their situation, for them being listened to is what they need for that moment.

I found out a person I work with is seeing a counsellor and that she has depression. Can she be a pessimist? Of course, but not everyone is always a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, sometimes we all need a bit of help. Considering the number of hours you spend at work it could be the only people you can speak to about things are your work colleagues. Perhaps someone is dealing with a work bully and it is starting to affect them and their ability to do their job. Or a work colleague is struggling with a more personal matter such as a divorce, all they need is a bit of support to help maintain some kind of normality whilst they go through a difficult patch.

Many of us will have grown up watching Robin William’s films, it’s difficult to imagine how someone with the unique ability to continuously make so many people laugh could also be facing some personal demons of his own in secret. On the outside he would this happy jovial character who would go out of his way to make others laugh and forget their own troubles yet behind the scenes he was battling alcohol and depression. He may have not been a pessimist or a whiner but how many people really knew what was going on his head? It has now been made public the actor was in the early stages of Parkinsons which may have contributed to his state of mind at the time of his death.

So next time someone appears to be constantly whining or this new term I’ve learnt, being a ‘Negative Nancy’, think if someone is being negative for the sake of it or if there could be a little bit more to it. A bit of empathy can go a long way.

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