My glass half empty employee is driving me nuts!
Hi Aunty B,
Our managers are struggling with a staff member who is a "glass half empty" type of person. Even when the managers remark on how well she is performing in her work, she always says, "Yes, but..." and finds any small thing she can moan about regarding her performance or the work environment.
As a human service industry, it is generally possible to find some evidence of humanity interfering with the perfect vision, even if generally all is going smoothly. Over the past year this worker has been given additional workers, additional support, training and we are in the process of air-conditioning her area.
We are not confident, however, that her mood will improve. In terms of her role, she has a rare combination of qualifications (and experience) that we would like to have 25% of our staff to hold, but are at about the 5% level. She is therefore essential. While her managers continue to encourage her to see the positive, her glass remains visibly (to her) at the almost empty mark.
Do you have any suggestions as to how we can pour her a large drink?
My glass is full
Dear My glass is full,
My glass is now full too! Mainly because your problem is easily solved.
I find that people with empty glass syndrome are often thirsty for change. They want to change themselves but don't know how. A nice low dose of anti-depressants and a bit of therapy could do the trick and shut down that voice in her head that tells her she is not good enough.
I have seen that work wonders in the type of person you describe. However, I don't recommend that (because if I did that bossy editor of mine will take it out of my column).
So your next trick is honesty. Be quite open about it with her. Tell her that she is great and that she has to stop with the negativity and every time she does it you are going to point out that she is being negative.
How will it work? Say she receives a compliment and puts herself down. You don't buy in. Instead you wag your finger and tell her "glass half full," in that really annoying, patronising tone usually reserved for your children when you have guests.
By the fifth time you have said this she will want to throttle you. By the tenth time, she will shut up. It won't stop her thinking the things she does because without a lot of personal work she is never going to change. But it will stop her expressing it and driving you all nuts.
And also remember when dealing with her that it is a very complex issue and that her negativity is part of the package. So try not to "hear" it and instead focus on her outcomes.
Your Aunty B
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