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Complainers. Where is the benefit? And, what is the solution?

We have all come across this person. Maybe you ARE this person. The complainer!

The complainer is the one that sees the drawbacks to everything. There is no situation too small to find fault with, no person too kind and no idea too bright.

Complainers are dragged kicking and screaming to accept change and show little enthusiasm.

But why? What does complaining have to offer to the complainer?

Here are four reasons complainers complain.

  1. Dr Guy Winch, a psychologist from the USA, describes complaining as a bonding mechanism: “Complaints can make us feel like we connect with someone because we have a mutual dissatisfaction about something.”
  2. When the complainers complain, they are getting attention. We all have an innate need to be acknowledged and complaining, for some, generates this acknowledgement.
  3. Identifying that something can’t be done is a way of avoiding responsibility. Complaining can also be used to explain poor performance.
  4. Complainers often have their complaints addressed. They achieve progress because those around them are accustomed to solving problems.

If you want to avoid the complainers complaining, or if you admit you have a tendency to be a complainer, try one or more of these four methods.

  1. Complaining is a way to express our dissatisfaction with the gap between what we expect and reality. Shifting our expectations to be more realistic and in line with what is reasonable can be helpful.
  2. Get someone else’s perspective. Sometimes we are too close to a situation to see the full picture.
  3. As JPPS co-founder, Charles Kovess states, there is an equal number of benefits and drawbacks to every situation. Complainers focus on the drawbacks of a situation. Instead, list the benefits of that situation and choose to focus on those. 
  4. Practise gratitude. List the enormous number of things to be thankful for and allow that gratitude to be more powerful than your need to complain.