How To Handle A Co-Worker Who Is A Chronic Complainer
It’s hard to be productive when your office cubicle co-worker complains in your ear all day long. A chronic complainer believes the world is out to get them, but the truth is that they may not even know that they complain so much. Here are some helpful tips for handling those that have a desire for informing everyone about how the world that has wronged them.
Express Empathy. This is the most important step because a chronic complainer just wants to be heard and typically will present a problem that has no short term or easy solution. Be cautious. Being sympathetic to their point of view does not mean you need to agree with them.
Stay Positive. Smile and nod, then try your best to change the subject. You can also respond to complaints with something positive. Each time your co-worker shares a complaint about something, share a fun or inspiring that happened to you. This is very annoying behavior to a chronic complainer because it’s no fun to complain alone. So, if you’re constantly positive they’ll quickly figure out that it’s a waste of time to use you as their sounding board and they’ll go elsewhere.
Ask For A Solution. If your co-worker with the same complaint as always has approached you, ask them if they have thought about a solution to the problem. If it is about another person, ask them to talk directly to them and not involve you. In that situation, it is best if they can solve the problem themselves without your intervention. Above all, don’t take responsibility for solving their issue and don’t get involved in company gossip.
Outside Interests. One tactic you may try is steering the conversation to include interests outside of work. Tell them that it seems like all you two ever talk about is work, then ask them something about their favorite travel destination or hobby. Talking about something innocuous, like a local restaurant will likely send them running for someone else to complain to.
Working with others can be hard and honestly, everyone needs to gripe and blow off steam from time to time. The difference between chronic complaining and venting is that venting is a positive and healthy activity. There’s a clear goal involved: you are expelling your negative feelings (anger, frustration, etc.) about the situation and once you’re done, you let it go.
Your chronic complainer co-worker will always find something to complain about. It’s ingrained into their DNA. But remain kind and don’t get sucked into being their sounding board for all negative things. These people quickly gain a bad reputation and in the end, won’t get very far with that kind of attitude. They’ll never take responsibility for it, but you’ll eventually pass them by. Take comfort in that.