Dear Naked Hedgehog,
I was wondering if you could help me? I work in an all-female office and one of my colleagues seems to be in a very bad way. All she talks about is how depressed she is because she doesn't have a man in her life. It's hard on the rest of us in the office as it's affecting her work and the way she talks to people. I'm pretty happy on my own but I am struggling with her constant talk of what a failure women are without a man by their side. I would love to help her to discover her own self-worth as an individual and I would also like to give her some practical information on how to find a partner. I’d appreciate any advice on how I could do that.
It is amazing how quickly one person can turn the atmosphere in a room. Your colleague moans and complains about her lot as a single person and the rest of you catch her “bad mood” like a virus leaving you flattened and depressed.
So, what can you do?
If she had a bad cold you would probably try to keep your distance whilst at the same time boosting your immune system. You could try a similar tactic with this situation. If she starts on one of her downers remove yourself from earshot or explain that you don’t think it is an appropriate conversation for the work place and suggest she talk to you or another colleague about her issues during her lunch break.
If you are feeling brave, you may want to tell her how her negative attitude leaves you feeling. She may have no idea of the impact that she is having on you and the rest of the team. If she won’t hear it from you then you may need to bring up the issue with the boss. If you are the boss, you will need to tell her how her behaviour is affecting her work and that of the team.
To boost your immune system and to prevent yourself from suddenly feeling wretched about your own singleness, make sure you surround yourself with positive, encouraging and upbeat friends. Remind yourself that contrary to what your colleague may believe, being “married” or being “single” doesn’t define a person’s success or failure.
How can you help her to find a partner? If she will hear it from you, I would start by suggesting she works on building her self-worth and self-esteem first. You could suggest that she sees a life-coach or a counsellor, someone who can help her find some confidence in her own worth as an individual. Alternatively you can encourage her to sign up to the Kick-Starter as she may find that a real help.
I would also recommend inspiring her to find and follow her passions in life. What things has she always loved doing or what activities has she always dreamt of doing, but hasn’t got around to yet? Doing something that she loves will hopefully increase her confidence and lift her mood.
As for dating, I would suggest that she might try online dating if she hasn’t already. Look for sites for like-minded people or one that has been recommended by a friend.
But perhaps the best thing you can do for her is to be a good role model.
If she sees how well you deal with the ups and downs of singleness and how you live your life with joy and contentment, perhaps she will get the message that life without a man certainly doesn't have to be a disaster. Help her to see how she can learn from the past, live in the present and have hope for the future.
I hope those suggestions might be of some help to both of you. Thank you for your great question and I would love for you to let me know how you get on.
Until then, be bold, be brave and be yourself.
*Name has been changed.
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