No one likes listening to someone complain all the time, but mindlessly agreeing with a whiner is not the way to go.
Here are a handful of tips of dealing with people who seemingly live to complain, courtesy of Chrissy Scivicque on Forbes.com:
- Choose your response carefully. What most complainers are looking for is acknowledgement that their plight is valid.
So it’s no surprise that many of us, in order to get rid of a complainer and get on with our lives, are quick to respond with a “yes” or “I agree.”
That may work for seemingly minor issues, but be careful about agreeing to complaints about the work environment.
You never know when a complainer might group you in with him or her in a later conversation, saying something like, “You know [your name] feels the same way that I do.”
All of a sudden, you may have unwittingly joined a fight that you probably wanted no part of.
- Craft a different response. When “yes” or “I agree” aren’t the right ways to respond, you can still respond in a way that acknowledges him or her and his or her concern without unwillingly offering to become a martyr for it.
So what are these magic phrases? Things like “I see” or “interesting” acknowledge that you’re hearing what the person is saying without agreeing with it.
- Don’t hesitate to disagree. If you truly don’t side with a complainer on a certain issue, it might be best for you to actively disagree, as scary as that may seem.
There is a certain way to go about it, however, according to Scivicque.
First, ask the person if you can state your opinion. The complainer will almost always say yes.
Then tell the colleague that you don’t agree with him or her and why.
Two important points to remember: 1) Don’t try to convince the person that he or she is wrong, and 2) be polite but firm.
Once the person sees he or she won’t be getting acknowledgment that their complaint is valid from you, he or she will move on to complain to someone else.