Q. There is a new employee in our office who is a bit different. This individual has stopped coming to the break room after apparently overhearing some unkind remarks about the differences. What should I do?

A. My brain’s opinion is that the employees who are making unkind remarks need to “tend to their own rat-killing,” as my little French grandmother would have put it, or in other words, “shut up.” Differences are what make the world interesting, especially since no one brain has it all or can do it all.

Are the differences pathological? If so, you might want to discuss that with your manager. If they aren’t, look for the positives in the differences. Every brain on the planet is different, you know. We only know our own brains—and often not that well, at that. Comparing our own brains to those of others is a dead-end street. You cannot reliably compare apples, oranges, and bananas. Each is valuable in the right context, although all are very different. Perhaps you could become a committee of one to be pleasant to the new employee. Affirm whatever you can. If you are unable to find anything to affirm, at the very least you could choose to avoid being part of the non-affirming coterie.

You might want to study up on Emotional Intelligence and find a way to encourage the office to raise its collective level of EQ. I started raising mine by catching myself whenever I exhibited a JOT behavior and replacing it with a behavior that was higher up on the EQ continuum. If you are serious about this, it can go quite quickly, and it’s amazing how exhibiting higher levels of EQ behaviors prevents a lot of “messes” that would otherwise need to be cleaned up.

Dump all JOT behaviors:

J – Jumping to conclusions
O – Overreacting
T – Taking things personally