18 October 2009

A Modest Proposal

I started a long blog about how negativity in the workplace feeds on itself and poisons the atmosphere, and I decided it was getting too involved. So for now, I'm just going to say this about that:

Save your drama for your mama.

I'm serious. I love you guys, but I can't work in an atmosphere of anxiety and perpetual worry over gossip. I'm going to have to start working from home a lot more, because I keep being interrupted by the latest scoop, the newest rumor, the most recent update on how we're getting screwed, either at work, at the bank, or by our insurance coverage.

It's not that I don't care. I do. But I'm distractible anyway, and what I'm doing requires me to focus. And your anxiety and negativity exacerbate the knots that weren't in my stomach until you started going on and on and on.

Instead, let me propose this: We form a team. We're already allegedly that, so let's act like it. Let's enact a few rules, and police each other to see they're followed. The rules I propose are these:
  1. If you can't say something positive, shut your pie hole. Go to your desk and write a journal entry if something's really bugging you. Or schedule a meeting with your manager and vent in a private room. And close the damn door. Schedule "services" for Our Lady of Consumption down at Proof on Main or Los Aztecas, meet your “bitchin' buddies” for a beer after hours, and complain all you like – then leave your complaints at Our Lady's altar and come back to work with a more positive perspective.
  2. Participate. We're having a chili cook-off, I hear. If the first thing out of your mouth wants to be something snide about "fiddling while Rome burns" – stuff a sock in it. Pull out your chili recipe and your Crock Pot and get cooking. Plan to be there, taste everyone else's chili, and make a point of bringing your new, positive attitude. If you come to share the camaraderie, we'd love to have you. If you come to complain, we're going to ask you to leave. The point is, some of us are trying to foster a sense of unity and cohesiveness and positivity in a somewhat anxious world. We'd love to have you join us, but only if you're really going to join us.
  3. Make fun. That's partly to say, if you can think of something more fun than a chili cook-off, let's see if we can get it off the ground. I personally think we should have some kind of a low-budget party every week for the duration. Create something to smile about. But it's also to say, if Mr. and Ms. Negativity show up at our parties and try to bring the mood down with their own gloom and doom, laugh them out the door. Stop playing into it. We don't have to accept the status quo.
The bottom line is, things get bad, then they get better. We can stew in our juices and get more and more depressed (and less and less productive), or we can get off our butts and seek out something to feel good about. Sink or swim, kids.

I prefer to swim. If you want to sink, go right ahead. But do it quietly, and do it somewhere else. If I can actually help, by all means, ask me. I’ll listen, I’ll offer suggestions, I’ll give you a pep talk, I’ll go to bat for you. But if all you want is to share your negativity so I’ll see and believe how shitty your life is and get on board the Doom Boat with you, forget it. You’re on your own.


  1. i concur. i realized how much more i enjoy being at work now that i'm not spending as much time with people who complain about their jobs all the time. or who complain about everything all the time. it's very freeing. if not a tad lonely. :D