3 Quick Tips for Dealing with a Chronic Complainer

Apr 12 / Karen Amlin

Everyone needs to vent sometimes, and most of us have our go-to person or people we rely on when we need to blow off some steam.

A chronic complainer isn't someone that vents every once in a while; a chronic complainer is someone that complains habitually, and leaves others feeling drained and exhausted at the end of a conversation.

A chronic complainer is not really interested in a solution; they believe negativity or gossip is interesting, and provides an effective way to bond with others.

3 Quick Tips for Managing a Chronic Complainer

Steps 1 & 2 - Acknowledge & Empathize

Say something like: "Oh...I remember you telling me this before...I feel really bad that this keeps happening to you."
"Wow...I can't believe you keep experiencing this over and over...it must be so difficult for you."

Step 3 - Shift them to a Solution

If you don't want to enable a chronic complainer by giving them the attention they are seeking, you want instead, to shift the conversation to a possible solution. Ask a question similar to this:
"Since this has happened so many times, I'm just wondering if you've thought of any possible solutions?"
"What do you think you're going to do to keep this from happening again?"
Chronic complainers believe that their rants make for interesting conversations, and aren't interested in looking for solutions. So when you make a habit of asking a chronic complainer what they are going to DO about a problem, you cause an unwanted shift.  The more you practice your solution-focused shift, the sooner the complainer will eventually stop coming to you with complaints because they know you will challenge them with answers about whay they plan to DO about whatever it is they are unhappy about.