6 Ways To Survive Chronic Complainers



This is I would like to say to chronic complainers: Shut.Up.

Whining is not unlike hearing the proverbial scratch of nails ripping down a blackboard and wanting to scratch your eyes out.

“The constant negativity issuing forth from chronic complainers presents a huge challenge for those around them. ” –  Guy Winch Ph.D.


So Perhaps Complainers Need To Know This

Bitching has a negative impact on the complainer’s brain. It’s true.

Says Elle Kaplan (citing Trevor Blake’s Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life) …the act of complaining “physically peels away neurons from an important part of our brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for intelligent and critical thought, and shrinks it.”

So, hey complainers: there’s one big reason not to do it.


Thusly, Do Not Enable A Complainer

People pleasers, highly sensitive people and those who have trouble saying NO are often the top group exploited by bellyachers. Whiners have a sharp sixth sense about their best target audience: poor old souls who will listen.

But it is a lose-lose proposition.

None of us do a complainer (or ourselves) a whit of good when we enable them. Here are only a few reasons why:

  • Gripers bitch primarily so that they can be heard and pitied.
  • Problem-solving is not their main goal.
  • They pretend to be oblivious to the positive side of hard life lessons. (For example, Eckhart Tolle says, for example: “Whenever something negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it.”)
  • Their modes operandi is to avoid their issues. After all, says Craig Jarrow, “If you’re complaining, you are doing anything but what you should be.”


So How Does A Listener Cope?

Keep a strategy in your back pocket. Without one, you are at the bitcher’s mercy. I’ve used this strategy often with surprising success. Switch it up as needed:

1. ‘Acknowledge.’ Genuinely listen (for a limited period) to the complainer’s tale of woe. Yes, listen. Then say, with sincerity, “I hear you,” or, “That sounds hard.” Other than that, remain quiet.

2. Let The Venting Begin – A Little. Chronic complainers benefit from venting. Give them the floor for a bit, then briskly change the subject (#4.)

3. Do Not Judge. This is a big one. The complaints you hear may sound ludicrous, nonsensical and petty (to you.) But labelling them with judgment will rev up the complainer’s hostility.

4. Change The Subject. Find a diversionary topic to discuss as soon as there is an opening. You could say: “Whoa! I just looked at the time – I have an appointment in 15 minutes! GTG!” or, “Did you hear who just broke up?”

5. Advice. Do not offer it. Complainers want their voice heard, not answers offered. So offer this self-esteem boost: “I know you will figure this out for yourself.” A complainer will well not like that answer. But truth is, you can’t tell others how to live their lives. (Tell them that.)

6. Ask About Solutions.  If the complaining is droning on, get to the conversation killer. As in, “Wow, that’s a challenge you have there. What are you going to do about it?” The complainer doesn’t want to talk about solutions, so the whole conversation may come to a merciful close.

Finally, remember: You Are Not A Therapist. Chronic complaining is a sign of neediness and low self-esteem.  M.Farouk Radwan, MSc. says that if a complainer sincerely wants to change, his/her insecurities must be addressed to overcome the need to spew negativity.

Are you qualified to help with that?

(Didn’t think so.)


And If You Are A Complainer Yourself?

Remember: complaining is not productive. Problem solving and proactivity is. This is not to mention that whining is a huge drag for others.

Says Stephanie Vozza:  “The truth is, nobody likes to hear it.”


Recommended Reading
James Mapes, “Why Do We Complain.”
M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.”Why Are Some People Needy?” 
How to Handle Chronic Complainers.”










This entry was posted on Friday, August 9th, 2013 at 1:37 pm and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.



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  1. September 2nd, 2013 | B. Trickot says:

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  3. September 4th, 2013 | K. Farrow says:

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  6. January 1st, 2015 | abby says:

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While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

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