Misery loves company, and for some companies -- where bad moods fester like a corporate curse -- the feeling appears mutual.

In this, our aggravating third year in the economic doldrums, career counsellors say all too many businesses are fixating on their bottom line, while their worker morale bottoms out.

Which is ruinous, life coach Christiane Turnheim says, because companies that let their office vibe devolve into a passive aggressive crabapple brawl lose more than their sense of patience or humour. They lose clients, sales, hours everyday worth of productivity, and eventually, those employees themselves.


“The jobs people really like are the ones where they get positive feedback, either from customers, co-workers or management,” the Massachusetts-based career coach and Psychology professor says. “Very often, co-workers may not work up to their potential because they feel that nobody notices, recognizes, or appreciates them.”

If you find yourself, a relentless optimist, trapped in an office where the social thermostat seems snagged on ‘frigid,’ be realistic about how much warmth you can bring into the workplace.

“You can’t change your boss, and you can’t change the culture in your organization,” explains Barbara Glanz, author of 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm. “All you can change are your interactions in your own sphere.”

That said, a few mere minutes of personable chitchat between colleagues, she says, can leave a mood-boosting half-life that lasts all day.

“Create a human level connection,” Glanz advises. “Look people in the eye, listen to what they say, remember their name, connect with them.”

And don’t be afraid to let the conversation wander off-campus.

“Talk to them about something other than business, to say ‘I see you as a human being,’” Glanz adds.

If your water cooler dialogue consistently fails to escape the gravity of company gossip and dreary shop talk, institutionalize some small talk, Glanz recommends.

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