Don’t be “that guy”.

Did you ever work with “that guy”?  You know the one I’m talking about.  The guy (or gal) who’s always got a reason to be unhappy.  Every now and then we run into people who seem to like bemoaning the various situations that they find themselves in.  Have you ever actually enjoyed being around someone when all they seem to do is bitch about how bad a situation is or how tough things are for them/etc?  I’m guessing the answer to that is no.  Face it, spending time with folks like that can be downright depressing.  We’ve all been there and most of us have taken a turn or two at being that guy.

I know that we can all have an “off day” where not only do you feel you can’t catch a break but that you want to talk about it as well.  And it’s OK to vent now and then or bemoan how something seems unfair or not right.  But if you are networking, then this kind of behavior can kill you.  Save the venting for your close friends, your spouse, or a counselor.  They either care enough to listen (and know you would do the same for them) or get paid to.  Everyone else, simply put, doesn’t want to hear it.

Moods, just like viruses, can be infectious.  If you are around people who tend to be in a good mood then they can put you in a good mood.  Depressing folks can do a pretty good job at depressing others.  So what if you find yourself suddenly unemployed and now you are networking with other professionals and they hear you complain about how you were mistreated at your last job.  How is that furthering your cause?  Basically, it’s not.  So even if you feel righteous about the fact that you were handled unfairly, before you go and share that with others in your network, ask yourself if it will help you get a job?

Also, for anyone lamenting that they gave so many years and so much dedication only to be let go, allow me to remind you of something.  If you suddenly found yourself in a situation where you could do reasonably better than you had been by getting paid more and still enjoying work/etc, most of you would change jobs “in a heartbeat”.  It’s not personal and you figure hey, the company will survive (and it typically will).  Well the same thing applies in reverse.  If the company can’t economically sustain itself at a certain headcount and needs to trim positions, it’s also not personal and they sometimes have to make hard decisions (sometimes there is no easy choice but a choice has to be made none the less).

So if you are suddenly unemployed due to a layoff, as hard as it may sound try to remember:

  • It’s not personal.
  • You’d have left the company if it suited you.
  • Complaining to people about the company or its management does nothing to help you get a job or get over your loss.

I’ve often said to teams that found themselves doing a hard task that I’d rather “a fake smile from someone than a genuine frown”.  So even if you don’t feel like smiling, fake it.  The results will still be better than if you were a genuine sour puss.  Nobody wants to refer or hire a negative person.  But when people meet you, if they see an upbeat and energetic person, then they will be a lot more likely to want to help.

– Yeti

4 thoughts on “Don’t be “that guy”.

  1. Great post and good advice. I agree that nobody wants to be with a person who is always negative and complaining. I never want to be the “Eeyore” of the group and always try to look for the opportunity in a situation rather than complain about my lot in life.

    That having been said, there can be a risk in going too far in the other direction. I’ve known several of “the other guy”. You know the one I’m talking about. The guy (or gal) who always says everything is WONDERFUL and FANTASTIC even when their closest friend just passed away the day before. (Okay, that may be a little bit of an exaggeration to help make a point, but you know what I mean.) There can be a risk of going too far in the opposite direction to the point where people can sense that you’re not being genuine and that can lead to a loss of trust.

    By and large, being positive is nearly always better than being negative and, as you pointed out, you have to consider your audience when talking about your troubles, but beware of going overboard and having people roll their eyes behind your back when you tell them everything is ABSOLUTELY STUPENDOUS and they know otherwise.

    Thanks for the great post, Chris!


  2. Don’t forget the IT “that guy” who acts like an imperious !)#*@ about his stuff and has a grenade to throw on anything else. I love that guy.

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