I have begun to realise how limited my patience is with these personalities although sadly I still have not got the balls to fully eradicate the ones that have become part of the fabric of my everyday life. I have, in the past, attempted to address a mood hoover (a particularly vivid one) and it went horribly wrong and therefore I have not tried again since. Even though a large part of my brain desperately wants to shake them by the shoulders and tell them to stop it. Loudly.
If you don’t know what a mood hoover is, maybe I should explain. I can guarantee you know at least one and probably many more of them. You might call them a ‘Nagative Nancy/Nigel” or just label them as pessimists or cynics, but they are much more than just people with a less than optimistic view on the world. These are people who suck the joy out of situations without even knowing they are doing it. Or maybe they do know but they thrive on being assholes. Who knows?
These people have a problem for every solution and would like you to know about it. You can NEVER actually help a mood hoover with his or her problem. It seems what they actually want is someone to whine at and NOT someone to think of ways around whatever the issue is.
If you work with one of these people then they are the one that will sit in a meeting, braced in a distinctly aggressive position (perhaps looking like they would rather be eaten by a crocodile than actually participating) and generally nay-saying everything anyone else suggests. About anything. It might go something like this:
Rational person: So we need to discuss what we might do about X.
MH: No we don’t. We need clarity on Y and Z first or there is no point.
RP: What kind of clarity do we need? I thought it had been decided in our last meeting that we would do B?
MH: Well I don’t think anyone was clear on what B was. And in any event, I don’t think it was an appropriate solution.
RP: What are your thoughts on an appropriate solution?
MH: (Rambles/rants for 5 minutes with no clear alternative solution until someone steps in)
RP: Ok, so what about if we….
MH: (Interrupted) There really is no point in discussing this further, it is a waste of everyone’s time until there is a decision on Y and Z.
Rest of meeting: …..uh….
Sometimes they have a particular pitch and tone that they adopt when they flip into this mode. Sometimes their natural face really is just a resting bitch face (or whatever the male version is?) and so they perpetually come across as standoffish and awkward and downright rude even when they might not have meant to.
Although the above type of individual can be confronting with their downright aggressive approach, even more annoying is the passive aggressive type (in my opinion). The one that snipes and belittles and pisses all over the crisps of the people around them without being in-your-face abrasive. I think I dislike this kind of personality more because it doesn’t have the backbone to actually be so downright rude but generally achieves disruption and negativity in your day by sneaky, manipulative ways.
By this I mean that person who has a face like a slapped arse the whole time you are engaging with someone other than them and makes you utterly paranoid that they are unhappy/uncomfortable/in need of something urgently, thereby managing to distract you from actually concentrating on the person you are meant to be engaging with.
Or the one who corrects everything anyone says even if it is a tiny, inconsequential error, a factual but miniscule mistake. Usually, in my experience, this is witnessed in marriages and long term relationships that have arrived at a state of perpetual bickering. It is truly exhausting to watch and runs like this ad infinitum:
RP: So I bought the more expensive one, it was $10
MH: No it was not, it was $9.95
RP: I took the route back via South Road and Anzac Highway
MH: No you did not. You did not take South Road you took Cross Road. We were on Cross Road remember because we went past the Uniting Church.
Neither of these corrections adds any value whatsoever to the exchange. They achieve very little except for highlighting to the people you are with that you have an overwhelming need to nit-pick and belittle your partner and some strange need to prove that you are right, even if it is only about inconsequential things. It is painful for people to observe on a continual basis and probably makes them question the stability of your relationship with the person you are correcting.
I do realise the irony of my choosing to blog about this, which could in itself be construed as a passive aggressive way of communicating. But the thing is, I have been burned by trying to rationally discuss this kind of behaviour with these kind of people and life is too short to try that again. I hope, by putting this in a blog post instead, that it circumnavigates the need for addressing it face to face while maybe just making perpetrators think about the affect these behaviours have on people around them.
Anyway, I just wish everyone could be nice to each other and not turn situations into painful and cringe-worthy experiences by their mood hoovering.