How to Deal With Chronic Complainants

We all know at least one chronic complainer: someone who genuinely believes the world is trying to get them and feels the need to voice every frustration in his life. After spending some time with a chronic complainant, you probably want to complain about that person (and rightly so), but you may even be afraid to do so out of fear that you will expose someone else through what that person made you. take out.

In fact, chronic complainants may not even be aware that they complain so much or have a reputation for being permanent blacks. They may even have good intentions to try to alert others to potential difficulties. Regardless of their level of self-awareness, being around a chronic complainer can be annoying. If you find yourself in this position, here are some tips to help you deal with their endless list of grievances.

Difference between negative people and chronic complainants

When someone is constantly complaining, it’s easy to think that they’re just negative about life in the same way that they’re a pessimist. In truth, chronic complainants are a very different breed. They may not have a negative outlook on life at all, but they still want you to know that nothing is good enough. Guy Winch, Ph.D. at Psychology Today explains the difference beautifully:

Optimists see : the glass is half full .

The pessimists see : the glass is half empty .

Chronic complainants see : A slightly cracked glass of not cold enough water, probably because it is tap water, when I asked for bottled water and waited, there is a stain on the rim too, which means the glass has not been cleaned. as it should, and now I’ll probably get some kind of virus. Why does this always happen to me ?!

Negative people are usually difficult to deal with , but a chronic complainant requires a different approach. In fact, as Winch explains further, they don’t even consider themselves to be negative people. For them, the world is that which is negative, and they know only one way to react to it. Chronic complainants can even be relatively positive people who don’t really know how to express themselves in a positive light, so it’s important to approach them the right way.

How to survive a conversation with a complainant

Unfortunately, many of us have to deal with these people every day. This section focuses on ways to end the current conversation – we’ll talk about the long term later. If you have to work with a chronic complainant, or have a family member you just can’t refuse, these tips are the best way to get them to stop. If possible, you will never want to use this behavior if you can help it, but sometimes you just need to go through a conversation in which both parties will eventually survive.

Listen and nod

Since validation is key to disabling the complainant initially, you need to show that you care about what they say. As annoying as it is, try to show that you really hear what they are saying. Jeffrey James of Inc. breaks it down into a simple display that everyone is capable of:

Even if the complaints seem ridiculous and meaningless, don’t roll your eyes, fidget, or check your email. Instead, nod your head and say something like, “I can hear you” or “This must be very difficult.” Most of the time, complainants wear out in five minutes or less, unless you’re stupid enough to add fuel to the fire by offering a solution. Don’t: At this point, you will always get a response like “But it won’t work because …” and the complaint will take much longer.

Often, chronic complainants are who they are because they have no one to turn to. Sometimes it is enough for them to speak well enough to throw everything out and move on. They want to be heard, and even if it doesn’t matter, they want to be treated like real people. You don’t have to say a single thing that actually helps or goes against them. Just listen, nod, and show that you acknowledge their concerns.

Confirm, empathize, reject, redirect

Now that you have shown them that you are listening, you are ready to use your most advanced weapon to get rid of chronic complainers. Validation is priority number one, but once you do, it’s time to empathize.

Express your sympathy as best you can and try to make it as sincere as possible. People can recognize when empathy is fake, and for complainants, this can lead to the mood, “oh great, you think I’m just whining.” It is also imperative to avoid any sarcasm. You might think that their complaint is silly and maybe even a little funny, but sarcasm will be noticed and create more problems.

In most cases, approval and empathy is enough to calm any chronic complainant, but there is something you can do about really tough situations. Rejection is a way to respond to them without turning them off or telling them they are wrong. Sue Schellenbarger of The Wall Street Journal recommends these examples of rejection , courtesy of author and speaker Will Bowen :

  • If they complain about a specific person: “It looks like you and he have something to talk about.”
  • If they complain about something else, “This is terrible. I don’t know how you can handle it. ”
  • When all else fails, give them another attention: “What are you doing well?”

Similar to rejection, the redirection method. Basically, you’re changing the topic of conversation without making it clear that you don’t want to hear their problem for the millionth time. Guy Winch writes in Psychology Today that using the current task as the focus for redirection is simple but effective:

For example, “Is the printer stuck again? Gee, this is incredibly annoying! I know it’s hard to ignore this kind of thing, but I hope you can become a soldier because we really need to go back to the Penske dossier … “

Many chronic complainants will give it up and go back to what they are doing. They have no intention of actually doing anything about their problem – complaining is a habit – so a simple redirect is all it takes to switch their thinking back to something else.

Keep your advice short and to the point

Many chronic complainants are fixated on the idea that being deprived is just a part of their life. They usually do not seek advice, despite the fact that they want to share their problems all the time. Even if you gave them a good way to solve their problem, they probably wouldn’t be very happy to hear it. If they ask for advice, it’s best to keep it short and sweet.

It is also possible that they will turn down your help after asking for it, insisting that your advice is useless or “irrelevant” to their problem. This can be very annoying, but if you can recognize it, it’s easy not to tire yourself out looking for options. When you find out that the complainant is rejecting help, ask them how they intend to solve their problem . They will either start thinking about ways to solve the problem, or they will leave it alone, because they understand that nothing can be done.

If you want to disagree, do it right

In most cases, it is not advisable to disagree with a chronic complainant. Disagreement removes any sense of confirmation you may have been trying to convey and can lead to an argument. However, sometimes a chronic complainer is so unacceptable that someone needs to whistle.

If you want to be bold enough to do this, there is a safe method that you can use. Forbes’ Chrissy Skivick recommends asking this simple question :

“Do you need my opinion?”

Human nature makes most people curious enough to say yes to this question. And then the man gave permission. They control the conversation. They asked to listen to your thoughts on this matter. At this point, let the person know that you have a different point of view, but do not try to convince him. Keep it short and sweet: “I hear what you say, but I see it differently.”

Now you can disagree without starting a fire. They asked for your opinion and you gave them exactly what they asked for. Express your feelings and stay true to them. This may be inconvenient at first, but over time they will move on to complaining to someone when they realize that you are not an ally in this matter.

Long-term tips for dealing with complainants

It is important to consider the fact that you cannot change someone’s behavior alone. Chronic complainants are the only ones with this power. However, you can control how you deal with them over time. Here are some ways to keep your sanity and patience in the future.

Never tell them “it’s not that bad”

Constant complainants look for confirmation in their complaints, not in someone telling them that they are wrong. Trying to cheer them up with a short parting speech will not help them see what can be done or improve the situation. Alexander Kerulf of The Chief Happiness Officer Blog recommends avoiding any mood-lifting strategy :

For example, “Oh, things can’t be that bad”, “Come on, cheer up” or the constant favorite “Time heals all wounds.” Such statements show the complainant that you are not taking their pain seriously. When you tell the complainant that “things are not so bad,” they will often complain even harder to convince you (and yourself) that their problems are really serious.

Likewise, you should never assume that they are overreacting to what is bothering them. This can lead them to find other things to complain about in order to convince you that things are really as bad as they say. Instead of looking at one complaint, you now have five more eligible complaints to support their case.

Never complain about (or with) complainants

Complaining about them is also a very bad idea. It can be difficult not to do this when someone is really bad, but at some point you become the complainant yourself. This can be especially dangerous if you are caught in the act or if they hear about it through a vine. You’ll have a chronic complainer who doesn’t like you either, and that’s not the best combination.

At the same time, joining them and complaining with them is not as useful as it might seem. You might think that you are validating their complaint by intervening, but that can also increase the likelihood that their problem will never be resolved. They will think their problem is not just theirs and assume that someone else can fix it. In addition, you encourage them to keep complaining by their own example. No complaint is a response to a complaint.

If it gets too much, you have to draw a line

When they reject your advice, it’s unpleasant for you to hear the same complaints over and over, so it’s important to set boundaries with chronic complainants. Ultimately, you are not responsible for the happiness or well-being of others. Dr. Rick Brinkman of Self Growth suggests drawing the line when things have gone too far. He uses a fictional woman named Katie as an example:

Tell her that you like her, want to support her, and that what you are going to share is because you care about her. Then tell her that you will no longer listen to how bad things are. If she wants to complain or deny, that’s her choice, but you won’t be there for you. If you adhere to this line (and if the complainant likes your company), they may be inclined to talk about something that is not a complaint or negative. Be sure to reward her for changing her behavior by thanking and appreciating her when she is in a positive mood.

Be strict about making this change and maintain a positive attitude. They will know that you are not upset and may see that their complaints have really gone too far. Also, if you can, avoid talking to a known chronic complainer. You have no reason to waste time with someone who makes you unhappy all the time. They can turn a great day into an unpleasant one in minutes, so be strong and don’t get carried away. Seriously: don’t go into action .

Chronic complainants are by no means bad people, but they need guidance. They can be annoying, annoying and rude, but you can stay cool and help them along the way. Remember that even chronic complainants sometimes reveal real issues and other legitimate issues, so you should always give them the opportunity to explain. Follow the check, empathy, rejection, and redirection and you’re done.

This story was originally published on 8/12/14 and was updated on 8/10/19 to provide more complete and up-to-date information.


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