Susan couldn’t take it anymore. Every time she saw David, one of the senior executives at the retail chain where they both worked, he would launch into an unending rant about his job, the country, and personal life. It didn’t take long for her to feel frustrated. It didn’t help that every time Susan tried to reframe David’s circumstances, he would revert to his pessimism. David’s incessant muttering, moaning, and lamenting was poisonous for everyone, even himself.
The Destruction Done
According to research, persistent whining, such as David’s, has physiological consequences. The recurrence of terrible, miserable, angry, and helpless sentiments can cause neurotransmitters in the brain to undergo a neurological “rewiring,” which promotes negative thought patterns and leaves little room for the more positive sensations of thankfulness, appreciation, and well-being. A never-ending loop of negative thoughts may even harm the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for problem solving and cognitive performance. Complainers become negativity junkies over time, drawn to the drama that comes with a complaining attitude.
They are also prone to thinking in black and white terms. Compromise is out of the question. It’s no surprise that chronic complainers like David are more inclined to identify problems than solutions, making it tough to collaborate with them. Because of their negativity, it is tough for them to make a decision. Complaining about things causes more things to complain about.
Chronic complainers are also harmful to people around them. When individuals think and respond in negative and gloomy ways, they unconsciously project these sentiments onto others, a process psychologists call “projective identification.” It’s as if they use other people as a garbage can for their negativity, leaving them feeling burdened down and fatigued.
Surprisingly, this type of “transfer” is quite likely part of our evolutionary constitution. Some neuroscientists believe that human humans have mirror neurons in their brains that are essential for survival. As social beings, our brains automatically replicate the attitudes of others around us, which can help us in times of peril. It can also be used to foster social solidarity. This neuronal mirroring, however, has a negative side effect. People that moan about everything spread their negativity, and before we know it, we’ve turned into complainers ourselves.
Why are you complaining?
Complaining isn’t always a bad thing. Occasional venting and expressing negative feelings to a coworker about challenging situations allows us to get our concerns out in the open, reducing the likelihood of stress reactions. Repressing our emotions may prevent us from naming and solving our situation. People also grumble to make themselves feel better. Returning to David, perhaps he sought Susan’s approval for how unjust or inconvenient his condition was, as well as to develop some form of emotional connection.
However, complaints may also be used to gain power and alter attitudes. People use complaining to gain support, especially within organizations, which may be hotbeds of political games. So David may have been attempting to persuade Susan of his concerns about some of the individuals in their company.
Chronic complaining often begins early in childhood to get exposure and create rapport in the family. These early events can become profoundly embedded behavioral habits, and in David’s case, they may have formed part of his personality. This would explain why he reacts negatively to advice since addressing his condition would remove the need to complain, hurting his sense of self.
How do you manage a constant complainer?
Attempts to assist persistent complainers are frequently ineffective. Rather than seeking alternatives, David is likely to remain focused on the negative aspects of his circumstance. It’s what makes dealing with chronic complainers so difficult.
It is best to begin by establishing defined limits. Susan should inform David that she is willing to listen, but not to participate in a monotonous conversation. Going over the same issue doesn’t help either of them. She should remind him that, while she understands his feelings, his incessant whining is disturbing everyone on the team. She should admit that everyone complains at some time in their lives, but she should also emphasize that most people moan in moderation and that there is a proper and wrong way to complain. Complaining is effective in instances where he believes he can impact genuine and positive change, but complaining in this manner is not productive.
Next, Susan should make it plain to David that if he changes his perspective, he will be considerably better off. Purposeful complaining – taking a proactive stance — will provide him with a road plan to get out of his funk. After all, if he has the time to moan and gripe about all that is wrong with him, he should also have the time to do something about it. He should be whining to correct and solve a problem, not to gain sympathy.
Susan might also advise David to adopt a grateful mindset. When he feels the inclination to complain, he should recognize it as a red signal and redirect his focus from complaining to listing his blessings. As a result, his mood may improve; he may have more energy and feel less stressed. Of course, changing one’s behavior takes time. A coach or psychotherapist, on the other hand, may work with him to explore his tendency to become a victim, why he continuously craves affirmation from others, and how to work on other answers when he feels the need to complain.
While chronic complainers appear to be innocuous on the surface, they owe it to their coworkers and themselves to control their conduct. People will eventually become tired of the negativity. David must understand that the squeaky wheel does not always receive the grease. It also gets replaced.