DEAR JERKASS: I have a colleague who's a drama queen. Perhaps I'm a little bit guilty, too, but "Sharon" talks excessively about her personal life. There's the boyfriend who doesn't support her and their 2-year-old child financially or emotionally, her mom who suffers from many medical conditions, and her neighbor whose daughter was murdered some months ago. Sharon's life seems to be a magnet for drama.
My colleagues and I have lent our ears and our shoulders to cry on. I have also tried to advise her (like you do) to no avail. I have now reached my limit. Is there a tactful way to deal with her? We work in proximity at least half the time, so total avoidance is not possible. -- INUNDATED IN HAWAII
There comes a point where the things that affect us negatively are our fault. Just tell her simply, honestly and directly, to leave her problems at home and shut the fuck up. Tell her you don't want to hear about her life unless she's telling you how she's making it better. Tell her unless she dumped that unsupportive dick, you don't want to hear about him. If and when she whines about it, or how he's "the father and I can't dump him", tell her to stuff it. It's a "colleague", not a friend or family member. Even if they were, it's time for them to grow up and own up.