How to Deal With A Workplace ComplainerDid you know, constantly listening to a coworker complaining can actually undermine your work?

Listening to too much complaining is bad for your brain in multiple ways, according to Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps: A Map To Success in Business and Life.

In Inc. magazine, Geoffrey James discussed how to turn workplace whiners into productive team members, and Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal also offered tips on what to do with a workplace whiner.

Unfortunately, there are many people who would rather complain than take action.

Following are six ways to handle workplace whiners:

Schedule a Conversation

Don’t let a known office complainer interrupt what you’re doing. Let them know you want to hear what they have to say, but you can’t give the matter attention while your mind is on your current task. This will limit the affect the complainer has on your productivity and also conveys a willingness to listen.

Change the Subject

If scheduling a conversation doesn’t work, try changing the subject. Ask the complainer what is going well. Try and get them to focus on the positive instead of the negative.

Set an Agenda

Ask the complainer if they need solutions or they just need to vent for a while. According to James, asking the question, “As we discuss this, do you want me to suggest solutions or do you just need to vent for a while?” will do three things:

Shellenbarger also advises to allot specific, limited amount of time in meetings for co-workers to air their complaints in a constructive context.


If you’re stuck listening you can do one of two things. Either imagine yourself in a peaceful setting you enjoy, or listen and communicate to the griper you’ve heard what they have to say. Don’t roll your eyes or check your email. Do nod your head. Complainers just want to be heard.

Ask a Question

Ask the complainer if they want your perspective. If they don’t want your perspective, that’s the end of the conversation. If they do want your perspective, phrase your advice from your own perspective by saying, “If I were in your situation, I would try…” If they start coming up with reasons it won’t work, all you have to do is let them know that is what YOU would do. Then end the conversation and get back to work.

Take Action

Getting distance between you and incessant grumblers may be the answer to your problem. Try moving your desk or workstation farther away, if you can. If you think it’s more of a serious problem, let their manager know. There may be mismatch between the complainer and their job. If that is the case, the only solution for both the complainer and the company is reassignment or termination.

Complaining can swiftly become incredibly annoying, so surround yourself with people who bring you up rather than break you down.

How do you deal with the office complainer?

Thanks to stock.xchng for the image

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