A reader writes:
I have a coworker who I’ve been friendly with for over two years. I took her under my wing when she got here because I saw that she was having a tough time. I had a tough time also when I first started and for the first two years I hated the office. I was bored, I didn’t have any work to do, and my supervisor was super moody. Things have since changed for me, so when I saw the new person having a a tough time, I took her under my wing and explained the ins and outs of the office personalities, the history of the office, and how I initially felt when I started.
My other coworkers and I did our best to make her feel welcome in the office. We all have a good rapport with each other, and some of us have even hung out socially. However, she is still refering to the office as a miserable place to work. She complains about not having enough meaningful work to do in our office but hasn’t spoken to the supervisor or anyone else about taking on other responsibilities.
Should I be offended by the negative remarks she makes about the office when my other coworkers and I have done so much to make her feel welcomed? We celebrate birthdays in the office and I do festive things and decorate during the holidays, and we laugh, joke and have great conversations during the day. Granted, we still have the same moody supervisor, but the rest of us have learned to accept and deal with the fact that our supervisor is moody. I really feel slighted but I don’t know if maybe I’m just being hypersensitive! I also should point out that she also splits her time between two different offices and often makes it seem like the other office is so much fun and is a much better place to work.
If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t like it, and there’s no reason for you to be offended by that. Different people have different perspectives on the same work environment, and you can’t take that personally.
However, her complaining and negativity is legitimately frustrating, and you have every right to ask her to tone it down, and to stop venting it to you. The next time she does it, why not ask her to cut it out? Tell her that it makes work less pleasant for you, that you’re pretty happy there, and that you’d appreciate her not trashing an environment that you’re pretty happy in.
And frankly, in response to her frequent complaints, you could also try asking, “So what do you plan to do about it?” She seems to not realize that she has any agency here (she could talk to your manager, she could try to transfer to the other office full-time, she could apply for other jobs, etc.). It might be useful to point out that her complaints ring pretty hollow when she’s not taking any action to try to change her situation.
But overall, should you be offended? No. Just annoyed. Very, very annoyed. And well within your rights to tell her to cut it out.