Smart Ways for Dealing with Constant Complainers

I think we all have a friend (and definitely a coworker) or two who constantly complains. I think it’s natural to have a grievance or two, but when every single conversation is negative, it can get old. Maxie’s tips are great for how to handle a complainer with grace!
Smart Ways for Dealing with Constant Complainers
Guest post by Maxie McCoy
If there’s one thing that can control how blissful your day feels, it’s your own perception. If you decide to see the positive in things, typically you’ll have a pretty great day. If you pick out the negative in every little thing that happens, your day will probably feel pretty cruddy. Each day, you get to decide.
However, you cannot always control the people around you. You can’t control what they say. And you sure can’t control their outlook on life. So, if they’re always focused on all the bad things happening, it’ll affect you. You’ll be pulled down alongside their negative energy. 
We all have those friends or family who can’t find a good thing to say. Instead of having upbeat coffee dates celebrating all the good things happening (hello catchups with Carly), your time with them is spent listening to their groans. And then if you’re not careful, you’ll end up chiming it with negativity and getting on their not-so-positive level. 
So before that happens, it’s important to try managing the complainers in your life with a few super easy strategies:
Know Who They Are
Many times, you don’t even realize that one of your friends, coworkers or classmates is a constant complainer. But if you start paying attention to the people that always leave you feeling drained and worse off than you came, it’s likely because they’re always focused on the negative. Start paying attention to the people in your life who spend 95% of your conversations complaining.  Awareness is the key to managing them in the future.
Ask About Something Positive
Complainers love complaining. And their minds are trained to see the negative. However if you begin your time together by replacing something generic and open ended like “How are you?” with “What’s going really well in your world?” you’ll nudge them to think about the positive. This gives your time together a better shot at being more of an upper.  

Validate How They Feel, Then Change the Subject
Most times, complainers just want sympathy. They don’t want your advice, thoughts, or solutions for how to fix whatever their problem is. It’s a drain of your energy to try. The best thing you can do is simply listen as they complain. Then provide your sympathy for whatever negative things are going on no matter how trivial. And then gracefully change the subject to something else. 
Set Time Limits with This Person
More likely than not, you’re not going to be able to change this complainer in your life. They’re the only ones who can do that, provided they notice their own negative outlook. So, if all of your attempts at curbing their complaining don’t work, you’ll need to minimize your time in conversation with them. If they notice and ask why, it’s a great opportunity to share feedback on why extended time around them isn’t working for you. It’s not an easy convo but it definitely could be a valuable one!
When it comes to your life, being surrounded with people who have positive beliefs and outlooks will always be better for your well being than pessimists and complainers. Dealing with complainers isn’t always easy but it’s always important. 

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Samantha Kay

I was definitely one of those complainers at one time :-/. Those are great tips! I'd also suggest that if the complainer is a close friend to find a way to politely bring up the problem. They probably don't realize how off-putting they are being, and it could change their entire outlook.

Gabrielle I. Miller

That's true. I've tried bringing it up with a close family member which I think offended them a bit. And I've done accepted that sometimes people just need to vent (even I do on occasion) and I can be a listening ear for that.

Rachel S.

Awesome tips. Something else I try to remember when dealing with complainers is to extend grace to that person… We all deal with our issues in our own way. If this is the way that helps them, sometimes it's best just to be patient (to a point) and let them speak as they need to.


Great advice. I have a friend like this and she calls pratically every day to share her day, which she's usually complaining about. I'm going to try some of these tips!


Such good advice. I had to figure that out at work with some of my friend co-workers who were always complaining but who I genuinely like and didn't want to start avoiding all the time. Listen, sympathize and then change the subject!

Jen | The Emerald Girl