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by Abigail Van Buren

Friend Involved With Married Man Will Have to Go It Alone

DEAR ABBY: I work for a small company where I'm one of 12 employees under one manager. My boss, "Debbie," is having problems at home. Almost daily, she brings her not-so-sunny outlook to the office and proceeds to drag everyone else down.

Any time a colleague has something positive to share, Debbie finds a way to negate it. If someone mentions it's nice weather, she'll complain about how much yard work she needs to do and the disastrous effects of global warming. She even complained that a pregnant co-worker's impending maternity leave will be "inconvenient."

The woman thrives on negativity, chaos and stress. She even complains about happy times of the year like summer vacations and holidays because we tend to be busier. (Isn't that a good thing considering the economic climate?)

Our office is small, so there's no escaping her. If she's not complaining to us, she's telling the same sob stories to a client on the phone. What can my co-workers and I do to keep from being dragged down with her? -- WORKING FOR "DEBBIE DOWNER INC."

DEAR WORKING: You and your co-workers should talk to your employer as a group because "Debbie's" behavior is neither professional nor conducive to a healthy working environment. Your boss should also be told that she is sharing her "sob stories" with clients, because it could cost him business.

Debbie may or may not need psychological counseling, but she definitely needs to be "counseled" about leaving her personal problems at the door when she enters the work environment. And the person to stress that to her is HER boss.