“I sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not.” She had just ended a five minute rant about an ineffective boss, the bad weather and her tight schedule. She sounded like she was complaining, and she was.
People complain all the time. It feels good to spread the misery around; it feels even better when you successfully pull someone in and they join you. Misery does love company, we all know that. But after the rant, then what? No one really feels better, no problem is solved and no one is better off for knowing what a jerk the jerky boss is. People just go back to their own lives and wonder, what’s she going to say about me?
Whiners are not winners. And you’re a winner. So how do you avoid the nay-saying, back-stabbing, malcontents swarming around your workplace? The same way you avoid all the other toxins around you: you step around them, you wear a mask and you wash your hands frequently.
Stepping around them is a good idea. You know who the complainers are. Avoid them. Choose to take your breaks at a different time and don’t engage with them socially. You can be friendly, and headed in a different direction.
Wear a mask if you have to. In other words, if you must engage with the complainer, keep your mouth closed and keep your own complaints to yourself; don’t feed the monster. Don’t agree or disagree. You can be friendly, and silent.
Wash your hands whenever possible. Change the subject, laugh off the negative comments and, when you can, be straightforward and say, “You’re going to have to do something about that, but I’m not the one who can help you. Sorry.”
Complaining is contagious. Fortunately, so is everything else. Your confidence, charisma and positivity just might be enough to charm that complainer out of her rut, and into your winner’s circle.
Julie Desmond is IT & Software Engineering Recruiting Manager with George Konik Associates, Inc. Send your comments and questions to Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org.