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My Coworker Is A Debbie Downer – How To Handle A Coworker That Constantly Complains & Speaks Ill of Other Employees

With one exception, everything about my job is terrific.  I work for an upscale hotel which is preparing me for a career in hospitality management.  My boss is a great mentor, and most of my colleagues are upbeat and enthusiastic.  However, one of them is a real mood-killer.

“Anna” starts complaining as soon as she walks through the door.  Our manager is her primary target, but she makes disparaging comments about everyone, including coworkers and customers.  She also loves to gossip and enjoys telling malicious stories about certain staff members.

Anna doesn’t seem to care that hotel guests can often hear her negative remarks.  Although I would like to correct this unprofessional behavior, that might put me on Anna’s “enemies list”.  If I mention this to my boss, I’m afraid I’ll sound like a tattletale.  What should I do?

Marie’s Answer

Since Anna’s compulsive griping is affecting both employees and guests, someone certainly needs to address it.  If you prefer to keep this on a peer level, team up with some other cheerful colleagues and arrange to have a private conversation with Anna.  A group discussion will have greater impact and minimize the possibility of retribution.

For example: “Anna, we wanted to talk with you because you are obviously not happy here.  Although we’re sorry about that, listening to you complain has become rather depressing.  We’re also concerned that customers who overhear your comments are getting a bad impression of the hotel.  So from now on, we’re not going to participate in any more gripe sessions.”

But if that approach doesn’t seem feasible, the business implications provide a perfectly valid reason for involving your boss in this problem.  Just be sure to focus on work issues, not Anna’s disagreeable personality.  Explain that her public complaints may be giving guests the wrong impression, so you thought your manager should know.  And to stay off the enemy roster, request that your comments be kept confidential.