Debbie Downer Down the Hall

Help! I’m desperate! How do I handle the ultimate “Debbie Downer” co-worker? Her default in manner and interaction is so depressive it is affecting my ability to do work. This person is obsessed with disease, death and dying and constantly reports out the latest death, dismemberment or sad event that comes across her screen. I am at my wit’s end. Help!


I hear you loud and clear. Lil Debbie is messing with your good time vibes and boundaries. I mean who would want to hear about death and dying all day long unless you own a morgue (ca-ching!). My guess is that this person has found her topic of reaction – death and all of the gory details. She gets a reaction – most likely not a positive one – but a reaction that makes her feel heard and acknowledged.

We do what works for us. Her grim outlook gets her attention – she gets fed.

As for you, which is the only thing you can control in this situation, what are you willing to do to change the situation? If you now know that this is an attention seeking tactic, how can you proactively address her before she goes down the dismemberment rabbit hole? What things do you have in common? Think about how you can shift her into happy topics. Plant the seeds for positivity! Get her out for a walk. Take her to coffee. We’re all looking for connection and this could be an amazing opportunity for you to shift the energy in the office.

Could you ignore her? Sure, but I’m going to guess you’ll still be hearing the news headlines. So, take a deep breath and approach her with compassion and a general curiosity to get to know her beyond her morbid fascinations.