Wouldn’t it be nice if it was acceptable to simply slap a piece of duct tape over the mouth of the office complainer? Of course, then you would have to fasten their hands together so the tape couldn’t be removed, which means you would likely end up having to do their job too! Clearly, duct tape is not the best solution. Still, no one wants to listen to whining or complaining. Not to mention, negativity is contagious, and even if you don’t catch it, others in the office might!
Does Ignoring Work?
Although it can be tempting to ignore them and hope they lose interest and go away, they are not a bee, and they typically will not lose interest. In fact, studies show that constant complainers are often motivated to complain more when they feel as though their concerns are being dismissed. While you may think you are doing the right thing, you are simply adding fuel to the fire. You don’t want to be responsible for the explosion, do you?
Sometimes, a complainer just wants to be heard and acknowledged. Who knows, maybe they were a middle child, constantly overlooked in their family. Quite often, a chronic complainer simply feels that no one is talking them seriously, appreciating them or understanding their concerns. Even if you think that their complaint isn’t even worth a conversation, it is important to them and that is what matters. Others may not always find your points important all the time either.
By giving them your undivided attention and truly listening to them, you will likely notice a nearly immediate change in their attitude. Sometimes they really do have valid complaint, but if they are afraid to talk to the manager or supervisor, they complain to coworkers in hopes that they will help. This is why an open door policy is so important. Employees should be able to politely go to superiors with concerns without feeling threatened.
After you have listened to their entire complaint, ask them what they want. Empower them by asking how they would fix the situation, changes they would make or what exactly they are after. They very well may have a brilliant solution no one has been listening to. On the other hand, if they have no suggestions or ideas, they might realize that their complaints are unjustified. By putting the ball in their court, it motivates them to take action, and they will likely feel just a little more important. If you are able to turn it around so they feel as though people are looking to them for an answer or solution, they will feel needed, and that is always a giant boost for the confidence level.
Even if you disagree with them 100 percent, you must think about them as a person, not a complainer. Their feelings are valid and you should treat them with the same respect you would want to receive; basics you likely learned as a child.