My coworker in the next cube over is a classic case of a chronic complainer at the workplace. I used to be friends but over the years I have distanced myself from him because I cannot deal with the toxicity anymore. You cannot bother to say ‘Hi!’ or ‘Good Morning,’ because you never get a happy response from him. He won’t be talking to anyone, just sighing, acting all pissed off and mumbling complaints in the air. If you do ever talk to him, prepare to hear what’s wrong with his manager, colleagues, and the workplace all at once. He never has anything positive to say.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the rest of my coworkers like family but this guy just rubs me off the wrong way. There is so much whining coming from a grown man that sometimes (umm... usually) I have a hard time feeling bad for him. Lately, I’ve just been saying, “I don’t know what to say,” when he complains to me about something.
Best Ways to Deal with Chronic Complainers at Work
Working around a chronic complainer can be really off putting. Secondly, dealing with chronic complainers is no small feat. Nothing pleases them and nothing escapes the critic’s eyes. Complainers at work manage to find fault in management’s every email, implicitly suggesting the people in charge lack intelligence and common sense.
Psychological research suggests deeper issues at work, such as an unfulfilling life at home. This makes them seek out to other people for emotional validation, and more often than not, they fail to realize they’re being overly critical of things and people around them.
So, how can you effectively deal with chronic complainers at work? We know how, follow our plan:
REDIRECT THE PERSPECTIVE
This tactic is used by politicians and actors, and it works! When you’re having a difficult conversation with a constant complainer at work, subtly change the subject by acknowledging their say on the matter, and then move on to another one.
Of course, this tactic isn’t going to take you anywhere with the individual. At any cost, do not allow the individual to poison the team.
ASK FOR SOLUTIONS
When you hear the constant whiner at work share his gripe, press him for a solution. Ask questions such as: “How do you suggest we solve this problem?” or “What would you do so this doesn’t happen again?” At any cost, do not offer solutions. They’re wired to whine out of any situation and will disagree with your ideas. It’s best you make them come up with their own solutions.
CALL IT OUT
Offer food for thought and call them out on their behavior. Make it clear that things aren’t going to change if they continue to indulge in chronic complaining. They need to decide whether they can be happy in their jobs because simply complaining about everything is not a solution.
In the end, it is your job to address the behavioral problems. You need to create a culture of accountability and ensure everyone meets the standards of the organization. Hire the right kind of people and fire those who infect the workplace culture by poisoning and creating doubt in the minds of other employees.