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How Not to Let a Complainer Ruin Your Day.

I know we all complain from time to time but do you live/work/go to school with someone who seems driven to find the worst in everything? And then tell you about it f-o-r-e-v-e-r ? They seem to have a knack for bringing down the mood where ever they go.

Maybe this looks familiar?

You leaving for work, feeling good. Yeah, its work… but you gotta make a living so might as well make the best of it.

Complainer always seems to wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

Running into Complainer on your way in. They already have a list of things that have gone wrong for the day and is determined to tell you all about it!

Sadly, the Complainer has effectively brought the whole group down. Others start adding to the rants with their own gripes about their life.

Maybe complainer is

suffering from depression….

or maybe complainer truly has a lot to complain about….

or maybe complainer has learned to use complaining as a way to let off steam.

or maybe complainer lives in a whole house of complainers and doesn’t know any better.

It could be multiple reasons and I do feel empathy for them but want to write about what to do when you are in the presence of a complainer and you just want to do your schoolwork, or job, or whatever and want to have a reasonably okay day while you are doing it.

Here are some tips to try:

  1. Having strong personal boundaries are hugely helpful around chronic complainers. Even though they are not crossing physical boundaries they are crossing boundaries in a sense by not being very considerate to those around them. Practice listening in as detached way as possible. It might help to image the drama/bad vibes they are creating kind of swirl around them but really just bounce off of you. You do not have to ‘take in’ the bad energy they are projecting.

  2. If you find anger or resentment building in you- which kind of confirms or feeds the complainers outlook in life… try to find a way to feel sympathy toward them so you don’t have the anger build up in YOU. Sometimes complainers just don’t feel heard (maybe everyone tunes them out so they think they HAVE to be louder/more negative to get someone to notice.) Consider giving a bit of genuine sympathy in their direction- “That sounds very stressful.” And then leave it. Don’t give advise because a complainer will want to argue. Don’t add to the complaints or engage the negative thinking. Give some understanding to their situation as a show of compassion but don’t feel you need to be the one to cheer them up. That show of compassion may be enough that they feel heard and it may help. But if the complaining continues-

  3. Consider finding a way to ask in private if they are okay if you suspect depression or bad home life etc.) Or if the situation warrants a different approach, in private let them know that the complaining is not helpful/productive. Make the comments short and to the point – not a personal attack but letting the other person know the effect they are having on others or the environment.

  4. Last but not least- in your more detached listening and observing of the complainer, learn to recognize the ways YOU focus on the negative and acknowledge the effect that has on the situation. Use the discomfort the Complaining brings up in you as motivation to do differently and then practice looking for solutions rather than complain. By reframing your self talk when confronted with obstacles in your life you can practice being proactive in moving in a positive direction.

Making a simple change from saying ‘I have to do ___________’ to ‘I get to ___________’ and see the shift in yourself.

I’d love to hear your strategies of dealing with negative people. If you have found this helpful, I’d love to hear that too.

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