Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dealing with Dementors in the Workplace

If you have read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies the you are acquainted with the dementors, wraith like creatures who control people by sucking every bit of joy out of their souls and leaving despair in their wake. Ms. Rowling is said to have based these characters upon her personal experience of clinical depression, which I can believe because her description of their effect does indeed sound just like a depressive episode.

I have come the conclusion that dementors can take human form as well. When they are in our private lives we can usually control how much and under what circumstances we deal with them. It's more difficult when we confront dementors in the workplace.

The issue is not their depression, if that is in fact their problem, it is their insistence upon inflicting their negativity upon everyone around them. These people do not see the glass as half empty, but as broken beyond repair. And they like it that way. They want everyone else to be just as miserable. Whereas most persons I have known with depression want to be well and happy and wish everyone else to be as well.

I work with a dementor. No matter how good one's mood is upon arrival to work, he will respond with a well rehearsed rant that will send one searching for the Prozac.

Nothing ever pleases him. If management does something nice for employees it is just to make up for some awful thing they have done in the past. He then proceeds to recount in excruciating detail, the previous infraction. If its a bad day he will say "This is just like the time management did..." and then again rant about past injustices. Moreover they have the memory of elephants, so that current management is blamed for the faults of those who have retired long ago, and coworkers are still being tagged with 10 year old mistakes.

This is bad enough when you only have to hear about workplace issues, but the dementor doesn't stop there. For example this person hates sports. Now there's nothing wrong with that, I married a man whose sole interest in things athletic is his son's batting average. But when coworkers cannot have a a casual conversation about last night's score without inciting a lengthy tirade about overpaid athletes and wasted tax dollars, it is all too much.

Slowly the black cloud that surrounds this person creeps across the room until everyone else in the place in drinking the negativity Kool-aid right along with the dementor. A happy job place becomes a drag. An already troubled job place becomes a nightmare.

So what can do about these toxic wonders? The first step is simply realizing what sort of co-worker you are dealing with. Recognize that the bilge they spew is only their reality, its not yours. Remember that every job has its ups and downs. In the Harry Potter books, the Dementors are banished by a spell that requires the recalling of happy memories. And actually the best cure for dementors in the workplace is similar. Find something positive about your job and hold onto it through your toxic coworkers rant. Remind yourself why it is you do this work. You may not be able to banish this workplace scourge, but you can shield yourself from the gloom.

And if all else fails, think happy thoughts of retirement. Yours or theirs.


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28 comments:

  1. Meg this is really good. I enjoyed your description of your workplace although I feel bad that you have to be around so much darkness. It's sad how clueless someone like that truly is about his affect on others.
    Leslie (aka Gwen Moss)

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    1. Thank you. Actually the problem got a little better once I realized what was going on. I have actually known the, so long that when I first saw the dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban I want to yell "that's it" at the screen.

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  2. Ooof, man. I've worked with people like that before. It's rough. On the one hand I feel like I should make an extra effort to befriend them because it must be rough to be a dementor and having no friends or kindness in your life must up your nastiness exponentially. On the other hand I want to run away and hide every time I see those kinds of people coming because sometimes my good mood is fragile and I want to protect it, dammit.

    Nice post!

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    1. Thank you...The saddest thing is this person seems to enjoy inflicting his cloud of gloom on the rest of us.

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  3. Oh my, I seem to attact dementors or something...

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    1. Me too...the one is this post is only the worst case.

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  4. I sure can relate. It's a drag for sure. Let's hope someone slips him a few happy pills.

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    1. It certainly is a drag. Maybe we could slip Lithium into the negativity Koolaid.

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  5. I might have to bookmark this post and read it a few times this next couple of weeks. I work with one of those too.

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  6. Oh man, I have met a few people like this before. I get through it by thinking about just how sad their lives must be that they can't handle letting anyone feel happiness, or to make mistakes.
    Yuck.

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    1. They really are something to have to deal with, aren't they?

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  7. I have worked for many a dementor before, so I can completely relate.

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    1. We may have the makjings of a support group here.

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  8. you captured the essence of a person that I'm sure we all have worked w/ at one time or another in our lives. . . great description. . . I can picture my dementor more clearly now. . .

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    1. I think it helps to think of them as mythic figures that must be dealt with along life's journey.

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  9. How true! Support group--- I'm in. Your advice is spot on. I've even found myself contradicting dementors out loud... it's a shock to their systems and they actually shut up for a second! But then it's back to maintaining a pleasant environment at least inside of my skull.

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    1. "Maintaining a pleasant enviormenr inside my skull" is awesome, thank you.

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  10. Love the unexpected humor at the end ("yours or theirs" -- ha!). I hope your dementor is out with the flu for the rest of the week and that you have a fabulous weekend!

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    1. Thanks Louise, glad you enjoyed it.

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  11. I know some dementors. They are unpleasant.

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  12. Oh, dementors... I surely wish they were an endangered species, but I'm guessing they aren't, huh?

    I hope that you always have a happy memory to ward off the gloom!

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    1. They are definitely not an endangered species. Plenty of negativity out there for them to feed upon.

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  13. That is one of the benefits of my retiring from a "real" job into a Real Housewife job. I no longer have to deal with dementors! Hope that guy gets out of your work place soon! I also love your last line ;)

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    1. Well I can retire in 4 1/2 years so if he doesn't go, I will.

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  14. Ugh. Such a downer, especially in the workplace! Surround yourself with positive people... the dementors are not worth your time. :)

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    1. The first step.of course is to recognize them for what they arw, and then steer as far around them as possible...

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