Need help! I have two coworkers whom I love—they’re my best friends at work, make our toxic work environment bearable, and are always there for me. My issue is that they are really negative, and their pessimism is starting to affect my mood. One is going through some health issues, so I can kind of understand. The other just hates our workplace, and I’m really tired of her whining. What can I do? How can I approach this without losing my safe place to vent?

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I think sometimes your best bet is to just be honest and explain how you're feeling. Boundaries and saying you don't have the capacity for the negativity are all good things. I would just ask to talk to them and explain how you are feeling.

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Thanks 😞 I'll give that a try and let you know how it goes.

When I’ve encountered this (especially during this Great Resignation), I like to ask…”so what are you doing about it? Are you searching for other jobs and applying? It seems like you’re really unhappy here. “

It usually helps get the point across. A vent here and there is fine—but if they’re that miserable, it doesn’t mean they need to take you down with them.

The one with health issues is probably struggling to find positivity. What about suggesting a gratitude prompt that you do together?

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OP, which Adobe department?

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Maybe try a rule to not talk about work related things outside of work time (if you hang out with them outside of work), or if the negativity is during work, you can still ask to chat about non work so it feels more like a break. Frame it like it's for your own mental health

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I guess. I have a really hard time making close friends, and I moved to a totally new area for this job, so I don't have any kind of support system here besides these two coworkers. I don't even know where to start with making friends outside of work since I'm not in school.

Shut them out when they talk negative talk or leave from there . Negativity will kill your career and life. Stay away.

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By which I mean therapist 🤦‍♀️

So, absolutely everybody around are toxic and two that are not toxic are “really pessimistic and negative”? And you think it’s they who have a problem and need a talk?

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They are saying that your friends are the toxic ones, OP.

I had the same issue 5 years ago. I quit the company where I was working because it was too toxic. My coworkers/friends too and our friendship is still there!

However, we were talking about work everytime, and I had to put some limits because it was not possible to relax. When we were outside of work, it was forbidden to talk about it

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That's what C1 suggested too. I'm so afraid of irritating or losing my friends by coming across as critical of their venting space 😞

That's a tough one. I would say if they start to get negative, acknowledge what they said but then just casually change the subject (might help to have some safe topics on hand...)

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I know this probably sounds like a dumb question, but what are some safe topics? I'm really close with my family and I'm newly married, but when I talk about husband/family, they always start complaining about their sisters/husbands/mothers in law/etc.

Have you ever heard of trauma bonding? It’s something that often happens, especially in toxic workplaces. It’s an interesting subject to explore.

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I've heard the term, but never knew what it meant. Can you explain a little more or direct me to a resource?

There are employee assistance programs where you can vent and talk about workplace stuff.

If the negative energy affects your mood and relationship just give it to them straight. Friends should be okay with honest and direct feedback. Negative energy rubs off on people but so does positivity, so try to do fun activities together as well.

I miss the workplace and playing foosball and talking smack. It's an okay way for me to vent and listen because it's all good fun and not too serious.

People need an outlet for venting and play but it doesn't necessarily mean it has to be with you. It's good to be there for friends when they need comfort but if there's limited help you can provide all that stress can stick with you. It's hard if you have a lot of empathy.

Agree 💯 with the what-you-are-going-to-do-about-it mindset. Helps distinguish people in trouble / vulnerable ones from just toxic ones. Stay away from toxic people is my advice, there's enough drama to go around already.

Self-care is important. Be selfish about that.

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Thanks. I'll have to check out the employee assistance options. We're all so worn out, and I really want us to be able to get in a healthier place. So if I can find a way for us all to get help together, that would be great.

UPDATE: My friends and I get drinks after work every Friday, so I thought maybe that would be a good time to talk to them about my feelings. When I said I was feeling a lot of negativity and wanted our interactions to be more positive so we could lift each other up, one just kind of lost it. She was talking about how this was supposed to be our safe space and that "not everything needs to be sunshine and rainbows." My friend with the health issues just kind of went along with it (as she does most of the time), and they told me that if I didn't like them venting then I should get new friends and not expect them to listen to my problems either. I backed down, but I'm at a loss 😞 I know it was a really tough week for the friend who lost it, so maybe that's why.

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I would continue to listen to them but with some detachment and objectivity. It’s great to have friends who are a safe space for venting, you may need them yourselves in future. One can control one’s positivity on one’s own but to vent one needs friends.

This will help you keep your friendship but introduce much needed buffer and objectivity. And yes, start looking for other roles and jobs as well. Keep the friends, lose the toxic culture.

Update 2: My more negative friend (the one who told me off on Friday) has been really short and snippy with me over text messages. I keep trying to apologize, but she's freezing me out. I don't even want to go to work tomorrow 😞 It's time to transfer teams. I can't handle the current toxicity AND my friends freezing me out. I texted my other friend too, and she says to just let it blow over, but how is that fair??

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I don't think it's running away if it has the potential to damage the op's work life, relationship with coworkers, and mental health...which given how much stock she (she?) seems to have put in these girls' opinions is a real concern.

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