Ask Alma

Co-worker Constantly Complains

Dear Alma,

I have a co-worker who is unhappy with his job and isn’t too shy to say it. If you greet him in the morning he will say, “Man I hate this job. I’m sick of this place.” Then he will go on to disparage his supervisor and co-workers. He never talks about projects he works on – just how he doesn’t like this person or that. He is a real downer and can turn a good morning into a bad one quickly. I try to disengage from conversation quickly, hoping he will get the hint that his comments about co-workers I happen to admire make me uncomfortable. But he doesn’t get it. Should I go to human resources or just tell him point blank to stop? I don’t want to start an argument in the middle of the office.


Not an office snob

Hey now NAOS,

I’ve experienced this type of co-worker myself. Most times they start off being the friendliest one in the office. Not! It’s a tease, LOL. That’s how they draw you in.

I’m taken back to something my Mama use to say: “You catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.” Of course, I didn’t know what she meant until I turned 40. But that’s another story for another time. My suggestion to you is to treat him with kindness. You become the shining light. Give him the exact opposite of what he’s giving you. When he says, “Man I hate this job. I’m sick of this place,” you say, “Wow, really? It’s a tough time to look for a job, and we all should be grateful we’re working, but good luck man. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

When he starts talking bad about other co-workers, you say, “Oh, really? I didn’t get that vibe from him. He was very helpful to me. What project were you working on?” Do you see where I’m going with this? He’s starting fires in the office, and I’m appointing you the new HFMIC – Head Fire Marshall In Charge. So start putting out those fires. Use this experience as a teachable moment. When you do what’s right in the middle of what’s wrong, it makes you feel better. This applies anywhere – at work, at school or at home. Present the positive. I promise; you’ll catch more bees with honey.


Sharp Elbows over a Sharp Man

Dear Alma,

I am very good friends with a man who is well known in our area. He’s semi-famous. I’ve met his family and he has met mine.  It’s all good. The problem is his women friends. When we go to work-related or social events, women seem possessive and want his attention. They’ve made dates with him in my face. One hostess of a party walked him away from me introducing him to her friends. She never spoke to me the rest of the night. I tried to join in and she gave me a death stare. He says don’t let it bother me, but I can’t. I value our friendship, but I’m wondering if I should just limit our get-togethers to one-on-ones. I hate to turn down invites, but it’s not much fun if the other women are just going to elbow me aside.


Torn Heart

Hello Torn Heart,

Let’s check out list: He’s gainfully employed and has benefits. Check. He can pass a drug test. Check. He has all of his teeth. Check.

Nowadays, a man doesn’t even have to be fine with those qualifications. Just standing upright will do. LOL.

Seriously, tho, the answer to your question is, YES! It’s open season on your friend. Your email reads like you two are having a nice time together. It’s early on in the relationship and you haven’t made any serious commitments. The two of you are still checking each other out and enjoying each other’s company. This is what’s called the “gray area.” Men like the gray area, but woman tend to try to add some color – and quickly. We like to know where we stand. That can sometimes jack you up. It makes you ask for too much too soon.

Personally, I’m all for taking your time. Listen to your heart and your stomach. One or the other will tell you when it’s right or wrong. When you’re out with him at a party, does he make you feel like you’re together, like you’re the special one with him? You know what I mean. Does he check in with you from across the room – a glance, a wink, a smile, however that may be? A man who’s serious about you will make sure everyone else knows you’re his lady. Are you getting that vibe? When unsolicited attention approaches from across the room, if you want him, you’ve gotta bring it. Don’t become lost in the sauce, Miss Demure. These are the moments when you touch up your lip gloss and show them what you’re working with. If you don’t know how, I’d suggest you pull down the shades, lock the front door and watch two episodes of Housewives of Atlanta, New York or New Jersey. Pick one. You’ve gotta learn to add a little more “atti” to your “tude.” In the game of life and love, it’s best to play to win.


Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions  Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.