How to Combat Constant Complainers

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” -William Arthur Ward


As a business owner, you have likely had your share of complaints. From difficult clients, customers, or team members, complainers can be found everywhere. You likely know some personally, or within your network. So, today, we would like to chat more about constant complainers and offer some tips to help deal with these individuals.

Reframe the conversation

In many cases, negative people often need a change in perspective. Therefore, attempt to reframe the situation so that you can change the course of the conversation. You might want to consider offering a different perspective on a certain situation or idea that they are criticizing. For example, acknowledge how they are feeling, but help them to see an alternative or a different way of looking at the situation. In doing this, you change the conversation from one of doom and gloom, to one with a more positive outlook.

Consider your response

Dealing with complainers can drain your energy. Your first reaction may be to say, “just get over it!” However, you can’t make someone feel a certain way by simply telling them they should. You can’t control the feelings or behaviours of others, but you can control your own. Therefore, do your best to not feed into their negativity. Instead, consider how you can respond in a way that is helpful and offers solutions to their complaints.

Offer solutions

As we mentioned above, one of the best ways to counteract a chronic complainer is to offer solutions to the issue at hand. Perhaps the person is overwhelmed and can’t seem to see any light at the end of the dark tunnel. Therefore, offer them insight into the situation and provide ways in which a solution can be reached to resolve the problem.

For example, you can ask them “how would you solve this?” or “what would you do differently?” Often, people get so consumed with what they are complaining about, they can’t see beyond anything else. In talking it out with a natural party, they may be able to reframe their thinking, and begin to see a way to improve the situation.

Ask questions

If someone is complaining all the time, you might want to ask them questions about what is going on in their life, both personally and professionally. Perhaps there is something going on that is impacting them that has nothing to do with what they are complaining about. They may just need someone to talk to, and vent their frustrations, before they are able to move on.

On the other hand, if you have attempted to delve deeper into their complaining, and have not had any success, you may need to call them out on their behaviour. Sometimes people don’t realize how they are acting, and by acknowledging it in a calm and respectful manner, they may become aware. While this could lead to burning a bridge with a connection, it is also important to have boundaries and recognize when it is time to move on from a relationship.

Have you had to deal with a constant complainer in your life? Find us on LinkedIn and let us know your tips to help navigate these interactions. We would love to hear your thoughts!

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