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Do You Work For the Chronic Malcontent

July 31, 2013 by Lady Unemployed

The funny thing is I didn’t make up this word out of the clear blue sky. My mom has just finished the book “The Sociopath Next Door,” by Martha Stout, PhD and she shared that word with me. When she did, I realized I work for a “chronic malcontent.”

In layman’s terms, it means just what you think it means: someone who constantly spreads their negativity around, complains too much, and never is satisfied.

Lately I have been helping a senior person in my department more and more. Well, until recently that is. Up until a few weeks ago, it seemed to go okay. Then, I made a mistake. And since then, this person picks at the tiniest details and never responds to me pleasantly. All because of a small mistake. And this isn’t just my perception, I have made worse mistakes there and she never reacted like this.

This person is notorious at my job. I’ve been told it has been two years since they have had someone assist them. The person who helped her before me told me this lady I’m helping is highly intolerant for mistakes and is very difficult to work for (and around). What makes it difficult is that she works from home, refuses to call me and has now required I redo training that I had done months ago.

Now, I’m in a quandary because I not only have had job duties taken away from me that I once had before, I have also been told to hold off how much I communicate to this person (to stave off their ever growing, never dying temper).

I’m at a crossroads at my job. My role has become lateral and there is no foreseeable growth in my career at this job, not for another year, at least.

In many situations I would speak up. Here’s the thing, though…

…I don’t like my job. I don’t like who I work for, I don’t like what I do, and I don’t have much respect for the company. Not to mention, I have found time and time again that my supervisor has not been supportive of these type of issues and often refers me to ask a coworker for help who I find to be spineless and only offers suggestions on how I can avoid conflict not handle it directly.

At this point, no matter what I do for this person (as I’ve been struggling to walk this very fine line to please her) that she refuses to be pleased with my work. The tragic thing is that she has much more seniority than me and push come to shove, my job would be on the line way before hers.

So, how do you handle working around the chronic malcontent?



  1. Jean says:

    Sorry to hear about your job. The only thing you might be able to do is keep walking that fine line and really look for another job — it sounds like this is just a job to you, and you’ve been there for a bit now, so maybe looking for a new place to work would be a positive change.

    Some people just want to hate you. That’s their shitty personality, but it shouldn’t be a huge weight on your shoulders. Negative people often have a way of making people want to please them, just because it seems like a challenge. Screw this, lady. Maybe this is your sign to look elsewhere. And while you look, placate her to keep your job safe — because she doesn’t deserve having power over you to keep you at a job you hate.

    Good luck!

    • I totally agree with what you said – people are just straight up negative and love being there. I think it is definitely a sign to look elsewhere (and I have a new post to update you with on that too!) 🙂

  2. Jess says:

    there’s a difference between a malcontent, a psychopath and a jerk. This person sounds simply like a jerk. Check out a book call The Psychopath Test. Also, The Peter Principle is a fantastic book. Written decades ago, still extremely relevant today.

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