At Work, Misery Loves Company

This post was written by CareerBliss contributor Robert A. Giacalone, aka the Career Healer

Over the course of my career, I have found it a steadfast rule: At work, it is true that misery loves company. The complainers tend to hang out together and moan about the negative aspects of the job. The happier types avoid them like an infectious disease and remain … happier!

If you want to stay happier at work, there are a few basic things to keep in mind.

Stay Away from the Downers

Avoid people who are generally miserable and complaining. Admittedly, many of these people are alluring because they often have information and correctly diagnose some of the negative outcomes at work. So many of us treat them like organizational psychics and listen to their prognostications! But being around such people is toxic. They tend to make you worry more, smile less, and focus on a future that hasn’t happened yet. You cannot live happily that way.

Don’t Indulge in Negativity

Don’t fan the flames of negativity. We all get caught in the middle of some negative conversations, where our colleagues attack everyone from fellow workers, to customers or even the boss. It is easy to get into the discussion when some of what they say may be true—but don’t!  Politely refocus the conversation onto something else. Tell them that it makes you uncomfortable gossiping or saying bad things about anyone. Offer a positive anecdote about the person that shows that his/her behaviour is not always negative. Sometimes, it’s easiest just to say “You know, I’ve never had that kind of experience with her.” If you don’t fan the flames, people will usually avoid these conversations with you.

Can the Complaints

Complaining is a time waster. There is more time wasted on complaining about the job than we would like to admit. You are busy.  Focus on your task. Keep working. When you appear busy, people will be less likely to stay long to offer their nuisance of negativity.

Even if misery loves company, remember that it has a vast number of people to choose from. You don’t have to be that person and you don’t need that kind of company!

Robert A. Giacalone, is Professor of Human Resource Management at Temple University. He is a recognised expert on behavioural business ethics, exit interviewing and surveying, workplace spirituality, impression management, employee deviance, and the role of changing values in organizational life. Dr. Giacalone is author/editor of 9 books and over 100 articles. You can check out his blog, The Essence of Living, at and the Facebook page Happiness is Essential.