Mad Woman, [Sad] Woman, That's Just Who You Are
January 7, 2011 11:59 AM Subscribe
How do I deal with my depressed coworker? I work with a woman who is nearing her 70s and she the most depressing person I know. She has a very negative attitude about everything. Talking to her depresses me! Bonus follow-up question about losing a child and grief.
posted by jenlovesponies to Human Relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
She has had a hard life- divorce, dealing with the death of a child, and estrangement from one of her kids. I feel for her, but she depresses me so much. For instance, one day she mentioned that if she could go back to any age, she would be three again because that was the last time she was happy. She also told me that when a woman loses a child, she may smile again but she will never, ever be happy again. She can be mean, cutting, and sarcastic. She is the victim in every story; every previous manager she has ever had has put special effort into making life hellish for her.
How can I deal with her? In my retail job, we work in the same department and therefore I can't ignore her, because we are often near each other, our schedules usually line up, and I feel so guilty that her life sucks that the only times she has ever been directly inappropriate (two days before Christmas she told me that she would like to pick me up and throw me across the room because I asked her to do something she considers not part of her job description) I haven't told my boss, because he is younger than me and an idiot to boot and completely incapable of discipline, if that would even help. I wouldn't even know how to approach the problem, "Boss, tell her to stop being sad?" And I know she would know it was me, and then I would just have to deal with her anger as well. What is the best way to deal with such a negative person? Is it better to approach negative people with positive responses, negative responses, ignore her as best I can, argue with her pronouncements of the world, or something I haven't thought of at all?
I am also wondering if it is true that women who lose a child can never be happy again. Out of everything depressing she has ever said to me, that has stuck with me the longest, because I can't imagine never being able to improve my own situation. I realize, of course, that even if the answer is "every other woman got over the same thing" that this does not mean she must or can, but I am curious if it is true that that is only reason she is who she is. And given that she has these specific grief issues, is there anything special I should do to make our job more pleasant?