Ask Amy: I work with grumps!
Dear Feeling Blue,
When a group of people brings out the worst in each other it can be hard to identify the source of the toxins and prescribe the right antidote. Your best bet: Don't participate in the bad behavior. For example, if a colleague constantly crabs about a doctor, client, or co-worker, avoid these discussions. You can make nonthreatening comments, such as "I understand how you feel," say nothing at all, or speak up about what you think. For example, "I know Susan seems unfriendly, but I think she's really just shy. When you talk to her one-on-one, she really opens up." Sometimes positive comments will reverse some of the negativism.
If there's a ringleader who's always stirring the pot, approach your boss privately and explain your concerns. On the other hand, if your boss generates some of the negative vibes, maybe it's time to beat a path to a practice with a healthier environment.