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What to do with constant complainers

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Are there workers in your department who qualify as constant complainers? If so, you've probably wondered how to get them out of your office and back to work. Here are some ideas:

Create a climate where com­plainers feel heard. Often, all con­stant complainers need is someone who will listen. They don't really want things to be different. They're not real­ly demanding change. Often, they just aren't listened to—at home, at work, anywhere—because their approach makes everyone bristle. You can sur­prise (and possibly quiet) complainers by simply listening and really paying attention to what's being said.

Overcome the urge to argue. Don't spend time arguing about what's right or wrong. Just tell complain­ers where you stand. Defending your position will only make them angrier. What you can do is ask questions and find out more information. Or, if you have to say something, simply rephrase what you've heard to see whether you've really understood it. Ask complainers what they want done—or, even better, ask them how they could improve things.

Plainly tell employees what you can and can't do. Use clear, easy-to-understand language. Say, "I can make sure that you are recognized for your efforts, but I can't pay you more money." When complainers show up at your office door repeatedly, or start causing trouble among employees, ask them to stop grousing. Point out that they're wasting valuable time and energy moaning about things that won't change.

Don't join in. While you're lis­tening to complainers, you may be tempted to gripe, too. Don't do it. Complainers may enjoy the company, but that kind of attention will only bring you more grief. There's nothing that encourages complaining more than the words, "You're so right."

Resist getting trapped. You know you're trapped if you're so angry that you can't do your job. Complainers are controlling you and not the other way around. Take a break and come back to work refreshed and ready to focus on other people and other things.


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