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Unconscious beliefs about the
benefits of being sick, like receiving special attention from
parents, often come from the childhood experiences of
University of Maryland
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Ever supervised someone who’s a hypochondriac?
aren’t sure, it will only take you 3 seconds to find out is
somebody is one.
Just make the mistake of asking how
they’re doing. Even though it’s a rhetorical question,
Hypochondriacs will answer you.
And it’ll usually be
something like, “Now that you asked, my hemorrhoids have been
Hypochondriacs get attention by eliciting
sympathy from others.
People resort to this when they
can’t get attention through healthy means, such as being
successful, interesting, fun, or just easy to talk to.
You, as an accomplished professional who worked hard to make
something of yourself, want to be recognized because of what
you’ve done. Hypochondriacs want to be recognized because of
what’s been done to them. They suffer from perpetual PMS (“Poor
For the hypochondriac employee, getting
you to feel sympathy for them is a means to an end. When we feel
sympathy for people, we tend to cut them some slack. And an
excuse for slacking off is exactly what your hypochondriac
employee is looking for.
Imagine that your hypochondriac
employee comes in Monday morning and whines, “I think I’ve got
that sinus infection again”. You offer to let him take an unpaid
sick day and go home, But he responds, “No, I ain’t that sick. I
can stay at work.”
In law enforcement, they call that a
If he were really sick, home alone is exactly where
he’d want to be. But when you’re a hypochondriac, home alone is
the last place you want to be because you need an audience to
When he says, “I can stay at work but I’m not
feeling so good”, what he’s really saying is “Don’t hold me
accountable for doing 100% of my job today, but I still want
100% of my paycheck next Friday”. These people will nickel and
dime you to death on lost productivity.
The key to
changing this is to reverse what psychologists call “Cognitive
Association”. In his twisted way of thinking, he believes that
if he whines to you enough about a sickness he doesn’t really
have, you’ll give him less work to do.
Simply reverse the
Instead of giving him less work
to do, give him more. The more he
whines, pile it on higher and deeper. What you’re
(metaphorically) saying is, “If you’re too sick to do your job,
shut up, stop whining, and go home until you get better. If
you’re not too sick to do your job, then shut up, stop whining,
and pull your own weight and earn your paycheck like everyone
else in this organization.”
You don’t have to be a
psychologist to be a good manager. Just be clear on one simple
principle with everyone… If people are getting paid 100% of
their salary to do a job, they will be expected to give 100% of
their best effort to do that job.
If a hypochondriac can’t think of a human’s pain and
suffering to exploit to their benefit, they’ll turn their pets
into hypochondriacs. You’ll see this with the employee who has
to take their dog to the veterinarian every other week. I call
this “Munchausen’s Syndrome by Puppy”. (Not an official medical
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