Managing the Constant Complainer

Back to Director & Supervisor

Do you have employees in your department who qualify as constant complainers? If so, you’ve probably wondered how you can get them out of your office and back to work. 

● One approach is to create a climate where complainers feel heard. Some complainers aren’t listened to because their approach makes everyone bristle. Often, all they want is someone who will listen. You can quiet this type of complainer by listening without passing judgment. If you have to respond, rephrase what you’ve heard to see if you have really understood the concern. 

● If complainers show up at your office door repeatedly, or if they are causing trouble among employees, don’t accept the invitation to join them in a gripe session. The complainers may enjoy the company, but that kind of attention will only promote more problems. There’s nothing that encourages more complaining than the words, “You are so right.” 

● After you understand a complainer’s position, don’t spend time arguing about what (or who) is right or wrong. Just tell the complainer where you stand in a clear and forthright manner and close out the discussion. Defending your position will only create a forum for continued discussion. 

● Negotiate a workable solution, if there is one. Ask complainers what they want done. “How do you suggest we solve the problem?” Even better, ask them what they plan to do to improve the situation. 

● When complainers spend more time talking than working, let them know it. Explain that they need to work more and complain less. Just say, “I have talked with you about this issue several times. You know we have no solutions available to us that you have been willing to accept. The best thing you can do is go back to work.”