Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Guest Post: Dealing with a whiner for a co-worker

Author: Dkris

Often (at least it seems that way), we come across people who are plain unhappy with every thing under the sun. Right from the weather, elevator button, doorknob, printer, cooler, food at the cafeteria, colleagues, clients, boss, workload and the list is endless. It feels like they just cannot stop complaining about things that looks and works fine. You get the feeling that they are always on the look out to be noticed, liked and empathized. To an extent where you might pass the person off as someone who is “busy doing nothing”!

Do we need say more that we are dealing with a “whiner”?

Whining is contagious and whiners can influence people very easily with their non-stop complaining. Even try and get others involved in matters that are not of a concern to them. Usually whiners tend to indentify an ‘active audience’ which is ready to listen to them. If you were stuck within such an audience, you have may tried a few things to avoid the whiner.

  • Topping the list would be to ignore the whiner.
  • Other methods might include, finding solutions, complaining about whiners to the boss, complaining along with the whiner or even agreeing with them to get rid of them quickly
Noticed something? These methods just haven’t had the desired affect on the whiner. In fact it could end up affecting the team in a bad way. It can bring down the morale and productivity of the team, since collective energies are used to either avoid or get rid of the whiner. It can cause a lot of unwanted stress within the team.

So that brings us to the question, how then do we deal with whiners at work?

For starters, don’t argue with them. An argument infuriates them more and works to their advantage. Don’t try and message your thoughts via mail. That’s a definite no-no for dealing with a whiner. Most often they prefer an in-person discussion. It’s good to document, but that only after you have met for a discussion. They are not seeking solutions either! So here goes, if you are dealing with a whiner:

As a colleague: Show tact in your discussions with a whiner. The next time a whiner comes by to your desk, you could try telling, “I understand that this is important to you. I would love to help you with the issue, but I do see that you have some concerns with . I would suggest you discuss it directly with . I prefer not to be a part of that discussion.”

As a manager: It’s critical that you stay in control during your discussion with the whiner. Spotting them early is an integral part of your role. This would lead towards ensuring that the whiner’s issues are addressed and it doesn’t have a negative impact on your team. That’s obvious. Yet, it’s so often neglected, in the hope that the problem will go away by itself! In fact resolving the issue will boost the team’s productivity levels and will lead to a healthy working environment. You could tell, “Joe, I’ve noticed that your behavior is affecting the team (mention a couple of instances). It’s having a negative impact and hurting the team’s performance and morale. I would like you to discuss any concerns/ issues, directly with me.”

If you feel you aren’t able to tell them tactfully or if nothing else works, it might help if you can have a sign like this at your desk/office. When cryptic messages fail, a straight forward message might save you a lot of trouble.

(Image Credits: Nygoe)

What works for you?

About the Author
Dkris is a software professional and currently works for a mobile web firm. His interests range from trance music, web development, blogging, tweeting etc. He is an Ubuntu Fan boi and loves Open source. You can know more about him on his homepage