It will be hard to stay positive and to strive for success when the people around you are chronic complainers and all they do is complaining in your ear the entire day.
Do you know that chronic complainer is different from negative people or pessimists? A chronic complainer is set to believe that the world is out to get there, while a pessimist sees things negatively.
You may think that someone who complains a lot might be a negative person, but this may not necessarily be the case. The truth is that a negative person is different from a chronic complainer and both require a different approach to handle.
Below are the differences between how an optimist, a pessimist, and a chronic complainer sees the world according to Guy Winch, Ph.D. at Psychology Today:
Optimists see: A glass half full.
Pessimists see: A glass half empty.
Chronic complainers see: A glass that is slightly chipped holding water that isn’t cold enough, probably because it’s tap water when I asked for bottled water and wait, there’s a smudge on the rim, too, which means the glass wasn’t cleaned properly and now I’ll probably end up with some kind of virus. Why do these things always happen to me?!
8 Useful and Effective Tips to Deal With Chronic Complainers?
Chronic complainers may not necessarily be negative people. It is just that they see the world as negative most of the time and they will try to find faults from everything that is around them.
Here are some useful and effective tips:
1. Listen and Understand the Conversation
First thing first, you must listen and understand what the chronic complainer is trying to tell you.
When you listen to what the complainer is saying, it simply shows that you are validating and respecting the complainer, and this is a good way to shutting down a complainer.
You need to show to these people that you actually care and are listening to what they have to say. Sometimes, even if the complaints seem pointless and ridiculous, do not fidget or roll your eyes, instead, listen and nod your head.
And remember, never ever try to counter what the chronic complainer has to say. When you do, you will for sure end up in a never-ending fight that wears out everyone. When you try to counter what the complainer said, you are engaging him or her into giving you another 10 more complaints or dissatisfactions. So don’t do that. Just listen, nod and understand the situation.
2. Never Show Your Hate
Whatever you do, do not show your hate to the complainer. This is easier said than done, but you have to understand that your purpose is to stop the complainer and move on with life, not to create unnecessary arguments that make the situation worse.
Sometimes the complainer is trying to bring out the message to you and you don’t want to be too quick to judge.
3. Deflect and Redirect
This is a very powerful and effective technique that one can apply whenever they deal with the chronic complainer. All you do is to acknowledge and then you deflect or redirect the conversation onto another topic.
Trish McDermott, the media trainer and co-founder of Panic Media referred to this technique as bridging as it is like creating a bridge that links to another topic.
The key is to change the subject of the conversation without making it too obvious that you are trying to escape. If you use the right words to deflect and redirect the conversation, it can be smooth and quickly close the topic the complainer is complaining about.
You have to understand that a chronic complainer has no intention of doing anything to their problem. It is their habit that is at play here. Chronic complainers complain because they have made it their habit to do so.
Therefore, a simple redirect and deflection of the topic will stop the issue.
Author and speaker Will Bowen gives these as examples for deflecting the conversation:
If they’re complaining about a specific person: “It sounds like you and he have something to talk about.”
If they’re complaining about a something else: “That’s terrible. I don’t know how you deal with that.”
When all else fails, give them a different kind of attention: “What’s going well for you?”
4. Keep It Short and To The Point
Many chronic complainers share their problems, but they are not looking for the solution. If someone approaches you with a problem or asking for your help, but refuses to accept your suggested solution, it is better to keep it short and to the point.
Complainers complain because they have made it their habit, and they are not really looking for the solution. Hence, it will be best to answer or give your suggestion short and sweet. They will be happy to hear your suggestion, but if they reject your solution, it will be fine too.
You just have to recognize and understand the situation, and never fall for it by putting too much emotion into it when they reject your advice. Another thing you can do is to ask the complainer how they plan to solve their problems if they reject yours. This way, you will either spark their creativity to solve the problem or simply leave it alone because there is nothing they can do about it.
5. Return The Problems
This approach can be very useful especially if you have acknowledged, listened and understood the conversation. Once you have gained the trust from the complainer because you listen attentively, throw back the problem to them. Ask them how they plan to solve it.
Simply ask them, “How would you solve this?” or “How would you do differently in this situation?”
When you return the problems back to them and if they are serious to change, they will see it situation as a problem and come up with a solution rather than blindly complaining due to their habit.
6. Call It Out
When all else fail, you just need to call out the bad habit and let the chronic complainer knows your view. Yes, you may risk alienating the complainer, but this is much better than allowing him or her to keep nagging you and bring down your life.
Sometimes, you should look at it as a positive act to call out the problem because you are giving the complainer the food for thought to change their behavior.
For example, you can say, “I feel uncomfortable when I hear that kind of criticism,” make your statement as you are highlighting your feelings and not being accusatory. If you say, “You’re always so negative,” guess where the conversation will lead to?
You will only make the situation worse. Including the sense of humor can also be an effective way to make the conversation less tense.
7. Maintain Your Senses
It can be challenging to deal with chronic complainers because they will drain and suck energy from you. Their negative views and blames can energize them because they are throwing the problems and put blame on others. However, this is not what you want to do.
You have to maintain your senses and never join in the blame game. Rather, never take things the chronic complainers say as personal. You know that they complain because it is their habit. So don’t take it personally.
Sometimes you just cannot force positivity into a complainer. If you do so, you will just end up arguing with the individual and this will consume a lot of your energy. Hence, choose to maintain your senses. Understand that this is just the habit of the complainer and it is nothing personal. So let the individual come up with their own plan of solutions.
8. Reframe The Situation
People complain because they are trapped in a situation where they see the problem and they just want to put the blame. And when they change their perspective, they will look at things differently. This is often referred to as “reframing”.
You offer a different perspective on the situation or a bigger picture to look at things. For example, if your colleague complains a company policy, try to offer insights why the policy is instituted in the first place and the good it can bring.
For instance, try to say “Well, let’s think about this from another perspective”, or “If we first understand the reason things are this way”, usually, you can change the nature of the conversation and prevent the complainer from seeing the situation from a negative point of view.
Do understand that chronic complainer may not be bad people or negative people. It is just that they have ingrained their habit to complain. Sometimes it can be annoying and disruptive, but if you can offer proper guidance, it is possible to keep your cool and help them along the way.
Plus, sometimes what chronic complainers exposed may be a real problem that you need to solve. This is why you should acknowledge, listen, and validate the situation before jumping to the conclusion that they are just trying to blame and complain.
So use the techniques mentioned above to solve your encounter with a chronic complainer. These tips are extremely important when you have to deal with long-term complainers that are around you most of the time.