How to Deal With Moody Co-Workers

by Stan Mack

Moody coworkers can destroy workplace morale because of their constant complaining and irritable behavior. While it's not your responsibility to fix other people, there are ways of dealing with moody coworkers that can make your work life more peaceful. A good first step is to understand that some coworkers are moody for a reason, perhaps because they are dealing with hardships in their private lives that contribute to their behavior at work.


Listening to your coworkers can make it easier to deal with them. Despite their moodiness, your coworkers might have legitimate complaints. Identifying what they need and helping them get it might minimize their negative attitudes. If you decide to talk with a coworker about her moodiness, wait until she seems relatively upbeat and then ask to have a private conversation. As nicely as possible, explain that her mood changes contribute to uneasiness at work. Listen carefully to her responses to avoid putting her on the defensive. Don't let the exchange become heated. You don’t want to increase her moodiness or make her an enemy.

Lighten the Mood

It might be that moody coworkers just need to relax a bit. Whenever possible, try to lighten the mood with humor. If coworkers react to a difficult workload with moodiness, show them how an optimistic and lighthearted attitude can make the day pass more quickly. An upbeat demeanor can be contagious, spreading from one worker to the next. Set up some group activities to distract everyone from their troubles. A casual competition or weekly lunch at a relaxing restaurant might lift everyone’s spirits.

Stand Strong

Some people use their negative personalities to get their way. Don't let moody coworkers push you around. Stand up for yourself, and insist on being respected. For example, if a moody coworker gripes about an unfavorable assignment, don't offer to help him unless you really don't mind the extra work. Setting limits lets moody coworkers know they must take responsibility for their own jobs.

Speak with a Supervisor

If the moodiness is temporary, you probably should wait for it to pass. But if a coworker’s moodiness is having a negative effect on the business, speak with your supervisor. For example, if a moody coworker is driving away customers, the business’ reputation could suffer, threatening the livelihood of all employees. There's nothing wrong with letting management know about a threat to everyone's welfare.

About the Author

Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.

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