The Colleague: “Eeyore”

While not abundant, you can spot them everywhere.

Eeyore as depicted by Disney

They are the sorts of colleagues who turn a ray of sunshine into a warning about skin cancer.

In a world of glass half-full or glass half-empty, they manage to always find the latter. It’s as if the coin flip for heads or tails always landed on one side, not the other.

They are colleagues nicknamed “Eeyore.

A recent board meeting I helped design and facilitate went extremely well; board members were highly pleased, and the client exec was brimming with a wide smile.

The debrief by the exec team was all positive until it came around to the group member I’ll call “Betty” who added that it was “OK but could have gone a lot better.

Eeyore strikes again.

What should you do when working with an Eeyore?

  • It’s mostly about them, not about you. An Eeyore would find imperfection in the Mona Lisa and make sure it was pointed it out to you.
  • Settle for a “draw” with an Eeyore; the energy to win them over isn’t worth your time and frankly winning them over is seldom likely to happen.
  • Respect Eeyore what what s/he is – someone gifted at pointing out what could be different, even if it’s a fly on an airport runway.
  • Value them for what they bring, not for what you wished they would change.

Alan Watts said “We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain. Colleagues like Eeyore help us appreciate not only those that are constantly critical, but those who are often pleased.

Eeyore said, “It works. I didn’t expect it to. I know it’s going well now but I’m just waiting for the bottom to drop out.

So count your blessings, even if it’s an Eeyore or two.


Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.

Eeyore as depicted by Disney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)