The Grumpies

Don't get sucked into the whirlpool of grumps.

Part I.

Diagnosis– Grumpies

The Grumpies invades your workplace when one colleague carries the Grumpy germ to work. Sometimes, you may be carrying the Grumpies and not even realize it.

Blanche, the sassy character from the classic hit TV show, Golden Girls, just can't understand it.

Blanche, the sassy character from the classic hit TV show, Golden Girls, just can’t understand it.

What is the Grumpies?  The Grumpies is invisible to the eye but very obviously felt by all the people in the area. The symptoms consist of impatience, biting remarks, physical signs of exhaustion, verbal complaints, sighs, sarcasm and weird looks between colleagues.

The Grumpies, like a flu or cold, is very contagious. This is the worst part about it. The Grumpy carrier makes a snappy remark to someone, then this person gets the Grumpies and the disease spreads.

For example, recently a colleague refused to comply with an ongoing and standard policy that I politely reminded her about. The peer made a “weird face” which projected hostility and annoyance. She then responded with, “since when?” Since always!! I wanted to huff at her.  I had to rise up out of my seat three times to remind her before she finally complied. I felt like I was dealing with a teenager even though I estimate she is about middle-aged.  Ideally, without my professional restraint, I could have responded with my hand on my hip to tell her it was my effing birthday yesterday and the last thing I want to do is explain a basic policy to her.

Instead, I responded with a borderline reaction. Aka, I could have done better. I succeeded at changing her tone. Although, it all worked out, it very well could have blown up in my face.

I explained the policy to her calmy. This was good; here’s where I played with fire– I said, “you can ask any of the others with that look [on your face], and see how they respond to you.” Okay, I said it sternly in my “teacher voice,” so she surrendered the issue, seeing as how I challenged her to throw her attitude at and confirm with the other colleagues, who are older than both of us.

I do think my age can play a factor when it comes to these types of situations, which is probably why I worry so much about how I present myself. But many times and likely most of the time, it’s the Grumpies.

Part II.

Tips on how to deal with the Grumpies

1. No matter how flabbergasted or offended you feel, maintain external composure. One of my strategies for this is to get into a mental “athletic” mode and try to enjoy challenging myself. It’s like a drive to outperform the Grump with etiquette. This potential to keep calm ironically stems from competitiveness.

2. Respond back with a question as though you have misunderstood. If you respond calmly and kindly, sometimes the Grump has a moment to readjust his/her vibe. It’s like your demeanor redirects his/her demeanor.

3. Another way to redirect the negative energy is to ask the Grump to wait one second for you to complete a task you’re in the middle of. While there is the risk that he/she may grow more impatient, at least you have an extra moment to strategize and compose yourself.

4. If it’s really bad, as in harassment, rudeness or bullying, calmly say to the person, “I can’t respond to you right now,” or use academic-sounding words like, “ineffectual communication,” “offensive language,” or “abusive tone.” If you feel scared ever (I certainly have before at work), move near others who can act as witnesses. If alone, have no shame; call security.

What else can a person do to avoid catching the Grumpies?

Writing this post was helpful in that, it forced me to reinforce and plan more effective means of dealing with conflict. Writing about a turbulent situation at work can offer insight and less subjective analysis.

How do you overcome the Grumpies? There’s gotta be better and different approaches out there. Share! Together, we can cure the Grumpies 😉


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