How to Deal With Complainers When You Actually Care
Understand why they complain.
Most of the time people whine because they feel helpless. Did you hear that? HELPLESS. It’s because they feel they can’t change the situation. To make things worse, they can’t even change the way they feel about things.
Understand what they want.
If you think that chronic complainers want your advice, you are wrong. What they really want is VALIDATION. They want you to acknowledge that their feelings and behavior make sense; it is also a way to vent and get a temporary relief.
Avoid this common mistake.
Many people make a mistake of first letting complainers complain, but once they realize it’s like trying to fill a bottomless pit, they try to set a limit on how much they are willing to listen or begin to avoid them altogether.
Unfortunately this leads to even more hard feelings and suffering. Now our complaining friends feel even more rejected than before; plus they have one more issue to complain about.
Set the limits.
When dealing with complainers, you need to decide on a period of time you are willing to listen to complaints and find a way to exit if they complain longer than planned. The limit should be very clear and specific; you don’t want to end up spending hours listening to your complaining friend or colleague — this wouldn’t be a good use of your time and it won’t help your friend either.
Acknowledge, listen, then go about your business.
If you want to comfort a complainer, first and foremost listen to what they have to say and acknowledge the validity of their feelings. Validation is what they ultimately crave for. Don’t allow to take this too much time though — this won’t help anyone, including your friend. Find a good excuse to end the conversation and go about your business. Not only does this help protect your time and well-being, it helps your friend to develop patience and self-confidence because by validating their feelings and ending the conversation, you are sending a signal that you believe in their ability to handle the situation.
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