Coworker from Hell #14: Cold


When this coworker walks into the room, everyone knows it. You can actually feel the temperature dropping. She is in a foul mood, and has no intention of trying to hide it. The work atmosphere gets awkward and uncomfortable as people tiptoe around her.

Typically, the cold coworker isn’t cold all the time. In fact, she can often be quite nice when she chooses. Her frequent, unpredictable, and fairly extreme bad moods, however, can make her quite hard to work with. She’s not necessarily unproductive, she’s just not fun to be around.

The cold coworker is someone who either has no interest in, or no strategies for altering her emotional state. She is usually convinced that she has the right to be in a bad mood whenever she feels, and the fact that it bothers other people is their problem – not hers. It is, in truth, a generally selfish attitude.

Because you’re dealing with someone who’s in a fairly intense emotional state, your options are somewhat limited. Having a ‘little chat’ with her while she’s in her black mood will have no effect, and can often make things worse.

Here are a few things, however, worth trying:

1. Try a little shameless positive reinforcement. Pretend you don’t notice her mood, and try to engage her in a conversation about something exciting that she did recently. People do like to talk about themselves, and sometimes dredging up positive memories can begin to interrupt her current negative emotional pattern.

2. Give her space. Avoid contact with her as much as possible. Don’t allow her mood to drag you down.

3. The next time she’s in a good mood, take her aside and have the little chat. Let her know how her moods are impacting the people around her, and how others in the office might begin to perceive her. Make sure, though, that you reinforce the positive things about her as well – the things you like.

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