This article in Psychology Today really made me think differently about some of the complaining I do. I didn’t think I was a chronic complainer….If I’m honest with myself, I grumble every time I encounter the same
moron associate at Best Buy who pretends to know something, but doesn’t. I have little to no tolerance for the dolt waitress that has no idea we may need our check…20 minutes ago. I certainly don’t understand the idiots couples that want to play a game of “sidewalk chicken” and take up the whole entire sidewalk… and expect me to step off onto the grass to let them pass.
Psychology Today says
Understanding the Chronic Complainer Mindset
Despite how difficult their constant complaints are for those around them, chronic complainers do not usually see themselves as negative people. Rather they perceive themselves as forever being on the losing end of things, as drawing the short straw on a daily basis. Therefore they see the world as being negative and themselves as merely responding appropriately to the annoying, aggravating or unfortunate circumstances of their lives.
Even those chronic complainers who do recognize their prodigious complaining output truly believe their unlucky lot in life more than justifies their expressing their dissatisfactions to those around them because after all, it is they who have been saddled with terrible misfortune and more problems than most.
Survival Tip #1: Do not try to convince a chronic complainer things are ‘not as bad’ as they think they are or suggest they are ‘over-reacting’ to events and situations. Doing so will only compel the chronic complainer to mention ten additional complaints, dissatisfactions and misfortunes you have not yet heard about and that might give you a better understanding of how terrible their lives actually are.
Understanding What Chronic Complainers Want
Chronic complainers complain to those around them because they seek one thing-sympathy and emotional validation (you can read instructions about how to provide emotional validation like a champ here). In other words, they want you to validate their experience, to tell them that indeed their glass was chipped, that ye, they were given tap water rather than bottled water and that in fact, they should probably get a good night’ssleep so they can ward off whatever nasty germs were embedded in that nasty smudge on the rim.
Survival Tip #2: The quickest way to extract yourself from a complaining soliloquy or shorten their grumble-a-thon is to validate their feelings, express sympathy (which must sound authentic or it will not do the trick.See how to be empathic here) and then redirect them to the task at hand. For example, “The printer jammed on you again? Gee, that’s incredibly annoying! I know it’s hard to shrug off those kinds of things but I hope you can be a trooper because we really have to get back to the Penske file…” Read the entire article here
I’m going to learn how to see these people in a different light this month! And maybe stop thinking about them in terms of morons, dolts and idiots…
How do you handle people like this?