We’ve all, at some point, had to deal with that one annoying coworker who is constantly complaining. It’s never pleasant, and all too often, it can lead to an uncomfortable or hostile work environment. 

Let’s face it, we all grumble about something from time to time, but constant complaining is a real culture killer in the workplace. Putting up with the non-stop nagging and whining of someone you work with is no pleasant experience. Unfortunately, most people just add fuel to the fire, making the situation worse or making themselves even more stressed out and irritated. What’s worse, negativity can spread in the workplace like a bad case of the flu.

When faced with a chronically complaining co-worker, there are some essential steps you can take to improve the situation without adding hostility. Here, we go over some of the best practices for dealing with whiny workers.

Refuse to Respond

Sure, this is easier said than done, but responding or commenting on complaints, whether positively or negatively, can actually end up validating the complainer. If you feed into their whining in any way, it will ultimately just add fuel to the fire, even if you’re disagreeing with them. 

Newsflash, people who complain don’t complain to themselves. The process requires interaction with others. If someone complains to you, be polite, but quickly change the subject and don’t engage in the process.

Stick to the Positive People

If you have a hard time dealing with a chronic complainer, avoid hanging out with them as much as possible. You don’t need to be harsh or cold, but you also don’t have to choose to sit with them during lunch or chat with them in the break room. 

Of course, there’s likely going to be times when you have to interact, but don’t put yourself in their presence if you don’t have to. If you find yourself stuck in a group with them, strike up a conversation with a less negative member of the group. In the best-case scenario, other people around you will navigate towards your positive conversation, rather than choosing to talk to the complaining group member. Worst case scenario, at least you’re having a pleasant conversation and not feeding into the negative talk going on around you.

Start Conversations Yourself

If you do end up in a conversation with your grumbling co-worker, start it yourself and then set the tone. Keep it uplifting and positive, and avoid talking about work at all costs. By keeping the tone of the conversation fun and interesting, you can hopefully avoid your negative coworker pulling it down into the complaining abyss.

Be Blunt

Sometimes, getting straight to it and pointing out that you don’t want to hear complaints is the best way forward. Beware though, being blunt does not equal being rude. For example, if you’re going out for lunch or drinks with your coworkers and you find yourself listening to a whole lot of negative work-related chat, simply try pointing out that you don’t want to listen to work talk whilst enjoying your free time, and then change the subject. 

Don’t Stoop to Their Level

When faced with a chronic complainer, it can be all too easy to let the negativity get to you. This is particularly true if you’re having a bad work day or you’re annoyed with your boss. Do your best to rise above these situations and avoid, at all costs, becoming the complainer yourself. 

Additionally, shy away from talking about the office negative nancy behind their back. It can be tempting to make snide comments or jokes, but at the end of the day, that’s actually a pretty childish way of dealing with things. 

Keep Interactions Short and Sweet

It’s simple, if you don’t like what someone has to say, don’t stick around to hear them say it. Once again, do this without being rude. Say hello and goodbye, and engage in small talk with them if they’re being polite and positive. However, it’s perfectly ok to avoid long conversations or interactions if you fear that they’re just going to turn into a negative cess-pool.

Involve Your Boss

No one likes to be a tattletale, but if the negativity is unbearable, and you’ve tried everything else, it’s definitely time to involve your boss. Untamed complaining that runs rampant in the workplace has a very real danger of catching a cold. 

It can be all too easy for bad-mouthing and complaining to spread like wildfire and, before you know it, the entire work culture is negative. Don’t like working with one complainer? Imagine a whole office full of them! If things get too hard to deal with, there’s no harm in involving your boss. It could end up being for the greater good.

Working in a positive environment is hugely important. Negativity can have a very bad impact on how much you enjoy your job and how well you get along with your coworkers. That’s why it’s so important to nip complaining in the bud as best you can. Don’t let chronic complainers ruin your day! 

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