Complainers can be annoying. Whether it is that coworker of yours that never seems to be satisfied with anything or that person that is constantly complaining of the tiny things. It not only bothers you but it may also lure you into becoming a complainer yourself. Nobody wants that, so let’s see how you can avoid this happening and stay positive!
When Does Complaining Become A Problem?
Complaining is a part of life. Everyone is bound to complain about something every once in a while, be it bad service, a feeling that you have been wronged or any situation where you may feel dissatisfied. But at what point does it become a problem?
There are signs that tell. You may recognize them in yourself or in another based on these two points:
The person usually sees the worst in everything. It doesn’t matter how hard one tries to make things better, this individual will see everything as if they are lacking. If it is a spouse, for example, no matter how well you dress, they will find a mistake to point out.
They say that low expectations assure you of little or no disappointment and so they are stuck at that level. For instance, if they’re hoping to get a job and have applied, they may assume that they won’t get the job, so that if they do not get it, the blow is not too hard on them.
If a person constantly exhibits these characteristics, then you may have a complainer around you and you need to take caution. They’re not worth your time.
Types of Complainers
There are different types of complainers, depending on what they complain about. Some are simply expressing their opinion while others might pull you down. Here’s how to differentiate them.
There is the one who is simply venting, because of an unpleasant situation. This happens when one feels they have to talk about something so that it doesn’t stress them as much. Has something ever bothered you and you just wanted to share it with someone? There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, you feel the urge to tell someone else about your concern.
This type of complaining may be a call to action for workmates. They may come up with a solution to the problem that has been pointed out, thus improving things. It may also be a great stress relief for one.
There is also the kind that tend to complain about services that fall below their expectations; the ones who ask for the manager in restaurants because their water is tapped and not bottled. They are usually very particular about the small details. They are very good at getting what they want as they ask for it, without fear of what other people may think.
Unless they do this in a rude manner, they simply stand up for something they desire and communicate it in an assertive way.
Finally, we have the ineffective complainers. These people complain about things that are out of their control. And that’s a problem.
They usually try to avoid disappointment by having low expectations. When this kind of complainer makes a complaint, it is almost always presented in a way that shows they are helpless in the situation.
They might mention things like “They can’t even give me a raise” or “they won’t choose me, they are always biased”. Their aim is not really to find a solution to the problem and change it, but to appear as a victim and make others feel sorry for them.
They always find the flaw in whatever situation they are in. They look at life in a negative manner all the time. They are unable to change anything bad in their lives and keep on dragging down others until they eventually become like them or leave them — which should be a red flag for you as well.
The problem with constant complaining is that it may affect one’s work, their relationships with those around them and their quality of life in general. At the workplace, the complainer may be unable to perform the tasks given, spending their time complaining instead. If you happen to be colleagues with such a person, they will constantly complain to you about everything, from your bosses’ dressing to the copy machine that got spoilt.
Complainers may be a distraction to you while you work. What is worse is that most do not even want a solution, so suggesting one may urge them on in making more complaints. The person may not even be aware that their complaining is a problem.
Complainers may end up depressed as looking at life in a negative manner all the time would naturally lead to depressive thoughts. The person then spreads this mood around themselves to those they are in touch with. They may kill your joy by always pointing out the dark in everything. If you notice this, no matter how much this person means to you, it’s time to say goodbye for your own sake of happiness.
The thing is, complainers tend to sabotage their relationships with people. Positive people avoid them because they push them away with their constant negative remarks. After a certain point you need to ask yourself the question: What’s more important? Your happiness or holding onto this relationship?
Dealing With Complainers
True, you can’t always avoid them. Sometimes, they are happen to be your coworkers and you have to cooperate with them in your team. In such cases, it is inevitable to interact with them but you can find ways to make it easier for you and to stay unaffected. So how exactly do you deal with them?
Sometimes what they need is just a listening ear to hear what they have to say. Show them that you understood what they wanted to say. Let the person vent to you for a while and get out their frustration through words. Maybe they just lacked someone to talk to, and you just so happened to be available.
You may feel the need to ignore them and go on with your business, or roll your eyes at the absurdity of what they are telling you. Try to abstain from this. Listening keenly and even giving them some encouraging words may go a long way and help them resolve what bothered them.
In case they refuse to listen to you and don’t let your positivity in then you know that you have done your job and now it’s time to move on and let them deal with their challenges without you.
Show That You Care
Show sympathy and the fact that you understand what causes a problem for them. If you approach them with sarcasm or they sense that you only pretend to understand their words just to get rid of the conversation then it won’t do any good for you or them either. Most people respond positively to genuine caring and once you decide that you want to help this person you should go all in.
It, again, comes back to the question of boundaries. But if you don’t let their sorrow in but simply come from a place of compassion and give them some minutes of your time to lift them up, they will never forget you.
It’s possible that you don’t want to take up their baggage, which is totally okay. As they complain, you can try to gently deflect the conversation by asking a question that swiftly changes the subject. You may direct the conversation to neutral or better topics. For instance, if they complain about how they will never get a promotion, you can ask what is going well in their lives.
You can deflect by asking about a topic they love and are positive about, such as team they support in sports that won recently.
Some of us are hardwired to come up with solutions when presented with a problem. You may feel the urge to point out possible solutions for a the issues of a complainer. Giving advice may work for the person but only if they are willing to receive your advice.
However, we need to take in the fact that most chronic complainers may not really want advice for their problems. They may refuse help when it is offered to them. They may even look for ways in which your suggestion will not work in order to prove themselves right. And it can give the person more content to complain about.
That being said, if you really must give advice, ensure that it is short and straight to the point. If you have tried it before but to no avail, try to ask if they have a way of fixing the situation. This may have them start thinking of ways to resolve it, and stop complaining about it. And if they do find a solution they might feel better just because of the sense of accomplishment.
What If You Disagree?
Verbalizing a contrary opinion to a complainer is only for the strong. Disagreeing may make you have to endure the complainer more and possibly even end up in argument.
For instance, if you are a manager in a store and one of the clients complains about slow service, you may be compelled to tell them that they are impatient and that the service is adequate. Other clients may even agree with you, but this one may complain even more, raise their voice and show other such behavior that’s not good for the business.
There are those moments, however, when disagreeing is inevitable and necessary. Then you can give them your opinion with respect, and ensure that you stand by it. Disagreeing with the person may make them leave and find another person that shares their sentiment. But that will set you free, and either way it is a win for you.
Offer a Different Point of View
This one is a bit different from disagreeing. It refers to explaining the situation from your point of view. If the complaint is about them not getting a raise, you can try to explain to them the reason behind e.g. having a tough year with less profit. Having them look at situations from a different angle may reduce their urge to complain and understand where you’re coming from.
While you try these methods, remember the golden rule of dealing with complainers. This is to never make them feel like their concern is not important. It is like telling a person with a headache to just stop having the headache. If you tell a chronic complainer to ‘cheer up’ it will not help at all.
The person will probably feel that you are not taking them seriously. This will make them put extra effort in convincing you that theirs is a valid complaint.
Whatever you do, ensure that you remain positive. This is a classic case of leading by example. A great way to avoid complainers is by being positive always, looking at the brighter side of life. The person will either avoid you and find fellow companions or try and be like you thus reducing their negativity. Either of these moves is a plus for you and the most effective way to avoid their companionship.
Sometimes the methods you try may not work, and in order to save yourself from also becoming negative, you may need to extract yourself from the company of a complainer. So if you feel that this is the best option for you, just stand up and leave when the person begins to complain. Positive vibes only, remember.
Dealing with a chronic complainer may be quite draining. Once you have spotted them, ensuring they do not complain to you all the time or at all is imperative. You do need to remember that you have control over your view to life. As such, there is need for keeping a good attitude despite the negative energy that you may come across in your day to day experiences.