complaining coworker

How to handle a complaining coworker


Your advice will only help but make them aware of their behaviour might complaining coworker.

What is it about complaining that entices some people more than others? Some colleagues complain no matter what, and we all work with them. What is the reason? Is there anything you can do to prevent it from affecting your morale?

complaining coworker

There are many reasons why people complain at work. It may be because they need to be more interested in the job. It is possible for them to feel wronged or even betrayed by their boss or the institution. Many people don’t handle these emotions well because they aren’t strong.

As Manfred F.R. notes in the Harvard Business Review, persistent behaviour means they have a strong habit of complaining. According to Kets de Vries, “through repeated negative feelings such as sadness, madness, and powerlessness, the neurotransmitters in the brain can undergo a neural ‘rewiring,’ reinforcing negative thoughts, which makes it easier for unhappy thoughts to repeat themselves. Ultimately, complainers become negativity addicts, drawn to the drama that accompanies complaining.” This means that your best efforts to help a negativity addict solve problems and avoid getting stuck in a cycle of complaining may not be practical—they will be back at it soon. How should we proceed? Are you determined to let that chronic complainer hijack your meetings and squash your ideas? Instead, seek to understand them first.

Decide how you will interact with them. Since they chose to air their grievances with you, you can decide when and how long they can take up your time. Following these steps, you can set boundaries with a constant complaining coworker at work.

Interrupt to bring awareness to their behaviour

Try interrupting a chronic complainer the next time they come to you with their complaints. Don’t antagonize them; instead, encourage them to find solutions to their problems: to figure out what they like or need. Interject and ask, “What are your goals in this conversation?” Could you please tell me if you need help solving a problem or someone to listen to you? Before they continue, let them know you want a productive conversation. You don’t want to worry about being perceived as unprofessional if you interrupt. By identifying the purpose of the discussion, your response sets expectations for the debate.

Interrupting can be beneficial because people who engage in persistent behaviours often are unaware of their persistence. It may seem normal to them, a habit that has developed without them realizing it. An interruption helps them pause, reflect, and become more self-aware. To change behaviour, you must first become aware of it. A persistent complainer can achieve this by interrupting their pattern of complaining.

Put structure around complaining coworker

complaining coworker

Complaining never ends, so giving it some structure can help. Some teams hold a weekly 10-15 minute meeting I work with just for complaining. They “get it out” during a set period and then return to work. As a result of this complaint fest, colleagues can bond around their shared frustrations through fun and playfulness.

A time limit can also be helpful. Please let me know how long you are willing to listen. There might be a 5-minute meeting or a 15-minute meeting. She kept an egg timer in her office. If someone came to her with a complaint, she set a 10-minute timer. The timer ticked along while they talked. She was rude to many people, but most stopped complaining coworker to her. According to her, “My strategy worked!”

Another way to give structure to complaining is by coupling it with something positive. One team I’ve worked with called it “Complaints and Kudos.” They intentionally set aside time to complain, but at the same time, they also shared their successes. This team struck a balance with complaint-making by recognizing that some things at work are annoying, frustrating, stressful, and worthy of complaints. But there are also likely to be a lot of positive things happening too.

Complaining at and about work isn’t inherently inappropriate. Sometimes it can serve a purpose, helping teams to build camaraderie. If you work with a persistent complainer, consider that. They may be seeking a sense of belonging. But if complaining is affecting you, you must take action. Your productivity and effectiveness may depend on it.

Withdraw attentioncomplaining coworker

Complainers need an audience, so they will turn elsewhere if you don’t give them room to air their grievances.

“Allowing them to vent doesn’t eliminate the problem; it reinforces it,” said McIntyre. Changing the subject can be a convenient escape route. The lovely thing about being at work is that it is an escape. You can say, ‘I understand that it is frustrating, but I have to get back to work.

And while it’s tempting to join in on the complaining, that will only add fuel to the fire and reinforce that you are open to such conversations.

Set boundaries – complaining coworker

If you work closely with a neverending complainer and must meet frequently, set some clear limits.

“Have an agenda and stick to it,” said Hallie Crawford, a certified career coach. Let the person know you only have 30 minutes and structure the interaction as much as possible.

If the complainer comes into your office, she added that a simple way to limit the conversation is to stand up complaining coworker.

A very effective way to deter a complainer is to explain how your approach to work situations is changing. “Declare a personal resolution to stop complaining about things since it drags you down,” said McIntyre.

 Approach delicatelycomplaining coworker

When someone’s negative attitude affects your work, telling them can be difficult.

Tell the person you need to discuss a touchy subject and ask if they’re open to discussing it. That way, you don’t blindside them. As a result, they are less defensive,” she said. They can mentally prepare for a minute by taking a deep breath.

Do not present it as a personality issue but as a business problem. “Managers hate personality problems,” McIntyre said.

It would help if you mentioned that you are concerned about the impact on morale in the office and that you are having trouble doing your work due to the complaint.

Crawford suggested coming up with possible solutions and ideas to help the situation. You should try to help a person who seems unhappy as a team player.”

So far, I have said things like, “Yeah, it stinks, but we have to tolerate this for now, so we don’t feel miserable”, or “Yes, I’ve seen that issue in a lot of different forms, but we should still fix what we can.”

It feels like I already know the answer, which is that I need to be direct and tell him that his constant complaining makes me miserable (but in more nice words), but I am hoping there may be an easier way. While I was trying to enjoy my lunch break and relax, he complained almost the entire time I wrote this letter to you, and my patience was wearing thin. Do you have any suggestions?

You don’t want to spend your whole day listening to someone complain. Even though you see legitimate problems around you, you’ve found a way to focus on your work. However, someone unleashing a constant litany of negativity in your ear will keep you distracted from what you’re trying to focus on.

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