Q: It’s getting to be a competition around here to see whose personal problems are the worst. All that people talk about lately is how much their life stinks — even the boss does this. It makes it hard to get up and go to work in the morning. Is there some way to stop this?

A: Dealing with personal problems of our employees and coworkers seems to be a growing issue, and it’s unfortunate that your boss is joining in on the gripe-fest. Someone has to take the lead in changing the overall atmosphere from the negative one you are currently facing to something consistently positive. Quite often, our problems are not as bad as they seem.

I heard about a young man who was obsessed with an old childhood fear — he thought there were monsters under his bed.  He talked to a psychiatrist about it.  She said that it would take one visit per week for about six months, at $150 per visit, but she was fairly sure she could cure him. He decided to think about it and get back to her.

A few weeks later he saw the therapist on the street, and she asked if he planned to come in and start working on his “issue.” He said, “Actually, I don’t have that problem anymore. I told a friend of mine about it, and he said that for $150 he could fix the problem with one visit to my house — and it worked.”

The therapist, now amazed, asked him what his friend did that was so effective and he said, “He came over and cut the legs off of my bed.”

It’s easy to get caught up in our negative emotions and join the pity chorus of those around us. If we allow negative emotions to build up, we tend to lose sight of simple solutions. We have to take the initiative to choose to have a positive attitude every day, and then focus on solutions that eliminate the problem.

Your work environment desperately needs someone to take the lead. Few unresolved issues fix themselves, so make a commitment to identify the true source of problems, develop a plan to actually fix the situation and then implement that plan. Choose to be the one that goes first and be the positive influence that changes the operation’s entire culture.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.