4 Tips for Dealing with the Chronic Complainer

We’ve all worked with office nags, the mouthy person who has nothing nice to say but grumbles and groans all day about everything and anything. While this grouser is annoying, the consensus is that this person is a walking red flag.

Besides being a huge annoyance, it’s a fact the chronic whiner exacerbates productivity – especially in today’s team environments. One complainer can draw others into the negative vibe until there are two (oh, no!) or even more malcontents.

Placing hands over your ears doesn’t work. Listening and nodding can indicate you are in agreement with the whiner – which adds fuel to the fire and puts you in a tough spot in the eyes of management.
So, what can you do to quell this grouch?

1. Confrontation. Talk in private, please, and speak honestly and directly. However, keep in mind though, that while you may get your point across about how his/her attitude and griping affects you, it may not work – no matter how polite or “nice” your words. It may even backfire as you are now a target of complaints as well. And remember, it’s best to leave other coworker’s perceptions out of the conversation.

2. Reassurance. Maybe the whiner has never felt his/her complaints were heard. If that’s the case, you can listen, provide feedback, and suggest ways to help them solve their issues. In this instance, however, realize that the issues may be signs of deeper feelings that the person may not be aware of having. If that is the case, only professional help will do.

3. Diversion. It is perfectly okay to say, “excuse me but…” (and fill in the blank with whatever task you will undertake). This works best if you are physically located away from the complainer and less so if the malcontent works next to or near you. In that situation, the silent treatment may be your best option.

4. Empowerment. Suppose the person complains about the quality of paper in the printer. Instead of condoning the complaint, task the person with finding a better quality paper at a better price. Not only will this be an achievement for the complainer but the company as well.

Face it; dealing with people is messy. Each of us is unique, so there’s no one way to handle a whiner. Despite your dislike of the situation, remember to act respectfully. You want to keep your image professional.

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