How To Handle Complainers And Complaining

Chronic Complaining

We have all at one time or another been the effect of someone who is constantly complaining about one thing or another or one person or another. Whining, moaning, groaning, finger pointing complaining can drag down a work environment, a team, a family, an individual or a group. On the other hand complaining is something that most of us have been guilty of doing at some point in our lives. It is when the complaining is chronic,when there is no other topic up for discussion and no means of pulling the complainer's attention off the target of their complaint that it becomes a huge threat to the viability of the environment the complainer operates in.

If the chronic complainer is not handled or not removed the environment becomes toxic. Left to go on too long and others will legitimately start complaining about the complainer. In this article you will find information that will assist you in discovering what drives the complaining and some tips for how to handle complainer. If you find yourself feeling the urge to complain that there is too much information here and all you want is a solution - complain no further and scroll down for an easy solution.  However, it is important to know, when handling a chronic, constant complainer that the more knowledge you have as to what is driving them the better prepared you are to put an end to it.


Solution Oriented Or Problem Fixated?

There is a vast difference between a legitimate complaint wherein one voices their dissatisfaction or concern regarding an unwanted situation or a flawed product and the kind of complaining wherein accusations are made and fault finding is the predominant theme. If you are complaining about a valid situation or circumstance then you will find yourself inclined to problem solve rather than carry on at great length pointing fingers and hurling accusations . When you are complaining about someone or something are you solution orientedor problemfixated? Many of us have been complainers at some time in our lives and many times our constant complaining has alienated us from others.

Depending upon what your legitimate complaint may be there are many proactive ways in which situations may be resolved. When handling such a complaint it is imperative that you stick to the facts and the correct sequence of the actions or lack of actions that led up to yourcomplaint. There are numerous resources for the resolving of issues that lead to a successful outcome putting an end to yourcomplaining . The chronic complaining of chronic complainers is another matter entirely.

Monstrous Complaints!!!

Attempting to handle thecomplaints of those who engage in the practice over long periods of time or who are continually dissatisfied with people, things and life in general is a good deal more complicated. The reason for this is that the chronic complainer is not looking for a resolution. What the complaining complainer is looking for is agreement – poor me; look at what they did to me; isn’t it just awful, and on it goes. It is all “look over there not at me”. The reason such a complainer wants you to “look over there” is simple – they have something hidden that they don’t want to know about themselves and have buried or they have something hidden that they do not want others to know about them. The complainer generally piles so much stuff onto the original decision to hide something they have done or not done that they create monstrous complaints to camouflage their actions or their failures to act.

The best way to keep yourself out of the crab trap set by a constant crabby complainer is to not go into agreement with their story. If you do go into agreement with it you will be caught up in their game, you won’t be playing your game anymore and your focus, attention, energy, emotions and thoughts will be tied up on the “poor me” other trying to resolve a problem that is not yours to begin with. Many problems that we have in life continue to be problems only because we have mis-owned them, taken them on and made them ours when in fact they are not. Victims like company as their reality, like any other reality, is based on agreements. The more real they can make their situation the less they have to look at the cause of the situation – themselves. If the complaint is not legitimate (as in solvable and not accusatory) then save yourself the anguish of joining in the chorus of moaning and groaning . Chronic complainers are unaware that they give themselves away to others. They use generalities like you always, you never, everyone, nobody and the like.

Fear Of Being Found Out

The continual complainer is communicating loud and clear that they are in a negative mind set however that is not all that the complainer is revealing to others. the truth is they have a huge fear of being found out . Complainers cannot get ahead in life, they are stuck in some past upset that was of their own making and they DO NOT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT, they do not want to look and they do not want anyone else to find out about it. It doesn’t necessarily take a big, horrible, dastardly deed to bring these phenomena about, it can be a small thing but it is a big deal to the person who has the kept or who has caused harm to another or an area of life. An example would be a person who constantly and continually complains about how dishonest so and so is. This individual may have done something as simple as having taken a quarter out of his or her mother’s purse when they were nine years old. They didn’t get caught, they felt horrible about it, it went against their integrity, they didn’t want anyone to find out about it, the event is then “buried, hidden from their conscious mind and they go on with their lives. Down the line someone takes something from them and rather than being able to deal with it in an open, honest, forthright manner confronting the other party directly they begin to complain and loudly. “Methinks he doeth protest too much” is not an ill-founded statement.

A chronic complainer will even go so far as to complain about other complainers. They are extremely critical and exist in a constant state of upset. They seldom look you in the eye and they see only negativity and what is “wrong” with others. If you do not take ownership of your negative and often downright harmful actions you will constantly find yourself at the effect of others negativity and resulting actions. A person who has harmed another or others will seek to be punished, even if the harm done exists only in the theatre of their mind and they perceive they have done something harmful. No actual harm has to have occurred it is the perception that it has occurred that causes the manifestations.

So if a chronic complainer is not solution oriented how do you handle them? You handle them with “kid gloves”. If you find yourself going into agreement with them then you have to step back and look at what it is they are complaining about. If you feel yourself being “drawn in” chances are you too have a similar withhold lurking in your past. Simply be honest with yourself and look to see if you have ever done something similar. Taking ownership of it allows you to deal with what is actually in front of you here and now. You might gently ask them if they have ever done anything like the nature of their complaint. Do not make them wrong for it as it will only serve to bury them even farther in their attempt to bury their past. Somewhere along the line they made the decision that nobody must know and considering both you and them are both a “somebody” both of you are included in that past decision. Just gently draw them out so they can look. That is all you want them to do is look, nothing more. They will be free then to make a different choice, or not. It is not in your control as to whether they make the change or they do not.

Victim, Victim, Victim

Childish Complaints

Speaking of "kid gloves" it is vital that we, as parents and adults handle the stolen cookie or stolen quarter. In a child's universe the quarter can be a big theft and therefore, in their minds they have committed a "big crime". Often children who are “acting out” have done something they should not have done and are “hiding” it. Through their destructive behavior they are seeking to be punished. When my children have displayed this kind of behavior the first question I asked them is “What have you done that you don’t want me to know about?” Gently asked them, not demanded from them – big difference. Once the deed is out in the open it can be discussed, reasonable consequences can be applied if necessary and your pleasant, happy child returns to the fold in harmony with himself and his environment once again. Children are basically honest – we were all children at one time and therefore we are all basically honest. It is when we have been dishonest with ourselves and others that life starts to get complicated. Often children will hide their actions only because the adults around them, having similar “kepts” themselves will react rather than respond to their children. The adult may make a "federal case out of it". And so it is that the child’s inability to deal with a reactive, negative environment that causes them to hide their misdeeds.

Another thing worth mentioning here is that adults often pass the "small things" off as childish behaviour taking the attitude that the child will learn or "grow out of it". The shortfall in that think is that it may be a small thing in the adult's universe but to the child, their dishonesty is a big thing. Some children actually begin to do bigger and bigger things in order to pull in the punishment for their "crime". Bewildered parents are at a loss as to what happened to their once sweet tempered and good-natured child. Once the child has "come clean" the bad behaviour will subside. It is an opportunity to have the child take responsibility and handle the consequences for their actions. The responsibility must be within the child's means to take and the consequences must be balanced to the "crime". To not respond or to overreact teaches the child nothing other than irresponsibility on the one hand and to fear to be honest on the other. When parents who fail to respond out of fear of hurting their child leave that child to society to deal with. Society does not love your child the way you do and is not so tolerant and empathetic when meting out consequences. If parents do not step up then life steps in and it's lessons and consequences can be much harder to bear.

Ask The Right Questions

An effective means of handling a complainer is to ask them "What are you willing to do to solve the (name the complaint)" or "What are you willing to do to resolve the __________?" or "What can you contribute to resolving the _________________?"  If they are not willing to go into positive action on it your question will serve to stop them from complaining about a person or situation that they are not willing to take any responsibility for.

Life can get really complicated but the reasons that it does get complicated are in truth very simplistic.

When confronted with a chronic complainer the K.I.S.S. method is the most optimum method of dealing with it.

The people who live in a golden age usually go around complaining how yellow everything looks.  ~Randall Jarrell

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Comments 30 comments

BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

Awesome hub! Complaining is one of those difficult things to deal with, and you offered some simple and practical solutions here.

I particularly like how you made the distinction between "legitimate complaints" and "chronic complaining"; the latter occurs when someone has made it part of his or her personality, which is a scary thing. It's a good reminder to curb our own tendencies to complain and focus on taking positive action.


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

Thank you. I agree with you about the need to "focus on taking positive action". There are more than enough people who are creating, reacting to and focused on problems. We need more of those who are solution oriented in order to, if not tip the teeter totter entirely, then at least to balance things out. Our world and our societies are drastically out of kilter.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

Absolutely--I couldn't have said it better myself. Whenever I sense myself being passive and plaintive (and thus becoming part of the problem), I try to remind myself that I have the power to change my situation (or at least see it in a more positive light) and influence others to do the same.

The neat thing about HubPages is that it's a great platform for us to encourage each other and the rest of the world to do the right thing!


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

Agreed!!! HubPages is a "great platform" and a wonderful community. Glad you are here.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

This is all so true. The English though love to complain but in a habit sort of way.


malcolmb 6 years ago

Another well conceived and written hub my friend. I love your approach to "laying bare" this touchy subject.


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

Ethel, could be the weather that makes them a titch cranky - it has been raining here for three solid months on the West Coast of British Columbia - could be the "British" or could be the weather but more than a few of us are starting to grumble about it!

And thank you Malcolm. You are a friend in the true sense of the word!


2uesday profile image

2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

I voted this as useful it is much more than that though. The information in this article could help someone to cope with a very difficult situation; you also convey the information in an interesting way.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Wow, very well put together hub. Filled to the hilt with good info and help.

Great hub

hope you're well

kindest regards Zsuzsy


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

Thank you2uesday. I am delighted that you have found this hub helpful and useful. And Zsuzsy Bee, thank you, I am well...well at least I can't complain. Much appreciated both of you.


Alissa1985 profile image

Alissa1985 6 years ago from Arkansas

Thank you for this hub. I work with someone who is I believe in the catergory of "chronic complainer". She is a very negative person who complains it seems like all the time. Then, it is a chain reaction, I get her complaining plus the people who have to occasionally work with her complaining. The sad part about it is we work in a daycare. Thank you for the tips, I will be using them!


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

Great Hub, I especially like the TYPES of complainers/complaints. Very interesting... and useful. Thanks.


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

Allisa, if appropriate you can also ask a complainer, "Have you ever done that?" However, use that one with caution. If you can't ask it without making them wrong don't bother asking it at all because all kinds of hell can break loose if you make them wrong for complaining. If you can ask the question lightly and in a positive mood then it can be quite effective. At the very least you will get them to look and that is all you need do. And kaltopsyd I am pleased that you found the hub both interesting and useful. The world will be a much nicer place once more of us become solution oriented, take responsibility and positive actions.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Well written. My opinion is : If you don't or won't try to change it don't complain to me. Of course, this is directed towards the chronic complainer. Love the hub, rated it awesome.


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

That is awesome! Thank you. I read your profile - pretty awesome yourself and I am delighted to get to know you through HubPages.


Alissa1985 profile image

Alissa1985 6 years ago from Arkansas

To be honest, I think that I have tried to come back with something like that, or to counter her negative energy with some postive. For instance, she will be complaining about how one of our workers is not doing her end of the job, as in not helping out as much. I might just look at her and smile, or I would say something like, well yesterday you were doing the same thing. I know that might not be the right approach, but it shuts her up for the time being.


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

Chronic complainers are desperate for agreement. Problem is if you disagree with them they just up the ante and the anti. A neutral, "I'm not interested." is often effective. Any condition does not become "chronic" over night, it becomes chronic over time. It is not going to dismantle in one go but a persistent and consistent putting it back on them is effective. If she is complaining about one of your workers not doing her job ask her "What are you willing to do to contribute to her doing it better?" Never give a complainer a solution - they can't have it. All you want to do is get them to look, in order to look at a situation or a condition one has to step back from it. Once they have stepped back from it they are no longer in the situation or condition. Asking them the RIGHT questions is the key to allowing them to look. They may take other runs at you with other complaints but once they find out you are playing your own game and not theirs they will either let go of their game or play it elsewhere. Do not worry if they answer your question or not, the answer is irrelevant - all you want to do is facilitate their looking. If they do answer just acknowledge the answer with an okay or thank you. Getting into a conversation with them is absolutely futile. Their prime directive is they need to be right. Sometimes, when all else fails a simple, "You right!" stops them dead in their tracks. Let them be right. If you resist you're stuck in it - complainers make tar babies! If someone is constantly complaining to you about others then they are also constantly complaining to others about you. You have an advantage - you can think and respond, they cannot think and they can only react. It takes two to play a ping pong game,the game is over as soon as one person puts down their paddle and walks away from the table. Some people need upsets the way the rest of us need air - it's what gets them out of bed in the morning! The person doing this is miserable and in a lot of pain. I would be interested in hearing further how it goes for you. Please feel free to contact me anytime. And thank you for your interest.


Seakay profile image

Seakay 6 years ago from Florida

Somewhere along the line, I have developed the patience to listen to complainers. Good thing, since I teach! Everything is not so cut and dried in the real world and sometimes I hear students repeating things that I know their parents have said. On the other hand, I can identify (being a parent myself). Developing diplomacy in our conversations is generally the best path to take in the classroom.

On the third hand, if the child is constantly hearing discord at home, there is not much to be done. It ends up the old "apple and the tree" story!

When it comes to speaking to children, I try to always think twice before I speak once. As far as conversing with parents, I generally let them do the talking. Amazing how that works for me!

MANY great points in this writing. Thank you for sharing!


Alissa1985 profile image

Alissa1985 6 years ago from Arkansas

I will try this out and I will let you know her reaction. Thank you for the advice!


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

As a teacher it is often a fine line that must be walked. In fact anytime one is dealing with children that are not one's own that holds true. And children learn by modeling after others so very often they are not the source of their behaviours. Often it helps to ask a child who is complaining, "Where did you hear that?" This is effective where one is dealing with a child that tends to be pro-active as they will often bring forward complaints they have heard from others in an attempt to seek a solution. When one assists them to identify the source of the complaint it allows the child to recognize that it is not their problem. The other question one might ask is "Is there something you can do about (complaint)?" This does one of two things, it will assist the child to see that the "problem" is out of their area of control or it will assist them to get onto the solution side of the balance sheet. Children by nature are not complainers. Most of their complaints are legitimate ones, tired, hungry, shoe laces too tight and the like and their complaints are easily resolved. Complaining becomes chronic when one has too continuous recurring problems or someone or something is actively putting them down. Often with children a simple, "Thank you for telling me that" eases their "burden".

Teachers are heroes in my books, per the definition in Greek legend, a person of more than human qualities. Every time my children arrived home from school all talking at once my heart went out to their teachers!


elimentree profile image

elimentree 6 years ago from New York

Thank you for insightful information in this area. It really did hit the spot. I am dealing with a monster complainer who has tried to make my life miserable. She has upset my household by making unfounded accusations, that have turned into harassment.This individual also projects her own personality flaws on others. So instead of her being a thief(she has been caught red handed) everybody else is. She literally screams and shouts about it and has involved my family members.This type of denial is absolutely mind boggling!There is no doubt in my mind that she has psychiatric issues.I think that maybe a viable explanation for all the madness I've been seeing.Problem is, it takes a long time for other people to see it too. Any way, your analysis was great and another way of me knowing that what I'm witnessing is very concrete and not a figment of my imagination, because sometimes it feels surreal. Keep up the GREAT work!


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

What I was slow at was understanding how it is that it takes some people so long to catch on when someone is running a negative process. I figured out through my son. When he was five he was in Beavers, then Cubs, then Scouts and then the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. His birthday is on July 1st. It is also Canada's birthday and every year from the age of 5 to 17 he was marching in a Canada Day parade as a member of the organizations he belonged to. Every year the rest of us would watch the parade as he progressed from Beavers to a member of the Colour Party carrying a flag and then as a side drummer in his squadron's pipe band. Standing beside him watching the Canada Day parade when he was 18 he exclaimed, "This is the first time I remember seeing a parade. We cannot see a game when we are in the game. We can only view the games others are playing when we are not players in their games. The person that you are referring to is actually giving herself away about her own actions and lack thereof every time she opens her mouth in accusation. However, if others either have "crimes"/tendencies or they resist what she is doing (i.e. they take the position of opponent in the game) then the games is on and they have bought into it. I understand the surreal because I have experienced myself when I view a "game" feeling very detached from it and the players in it. I have a good deal of information on what drives a person such as the one you describe. I'll have to considering doing a hub about it.

Thank you for your comments!


Website Examiner 6 years ago

My only complaint about this hub is that I have found nothing to complain about... This is a stimulating and thought-evoking subject. How to respond depends on the setting, I guess: If in a casual setting, I would briefly say something like "I see your point," then move on to other subjects so as to not to give them food for pursuing this. If working in a customer service department, now that is an entirely different matter, and here your advice could be very helpful. Good hub.


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

I think that the insane desire one has sometimes to bang and kick grumblers and peevish persons is a Divine instinct. ~Robert Hugh Benson

As long as you are honest - with yourself!


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

You have raised another method of handling the chronic complainer and that is - hold your position. Thank you for your visit and your comments.


elimentree profile image

elimentree 6 years ago from New York

I think that just as you have given some very insightful information on this hub, another Hub on what drives an individual to live this deceptive lifestyle would remarkable compliment it. Needless to say, I think that it is needed because many people out there are not sure of what to do. Some just do not have counselors who may be able to effectively advise them by giving useful information that will keep the person OUT of trouble. An individual armed with proper information could diffuse some of the stress of their plight, and ultimately aid themselves in making informed and effective choices concerning the undesirable thorn in the side.This type of empowerment is quite liberating, and it's exactly what people who have been victimized urgently need. So,do write!!


raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

I have spent years and tens of thousands of dollars in order to see beneath the surface to view and understand the part of the iceberg that lays beneath the waters. My choice to write hubs has been made out of my desire to share with others much of the knowledge that I have acquired. My vision is that I may be able to facilitate others in the upgrade of their lives, the games they play in those lives along with the roles they play and the positions they hold. Knowledge is power and as we leave the Industrial Age behind us we are stepping in to the Knowledge Age. It will take a number of hubs to "arm" others and yes, the truth is indeed liberating. I have already written a number of hubs sharing my knowledge and I am committed and I will continue to write! I am in the process of learning the internet world and how best to place and put down what I know in a manner that is easy for others to pick up! In the meantime one tip is to find one thing, one attribute or one ability that you can admire or appreciate about the "thorn". More than one, even better. Keep your attention on that and if you can express it to the other with simple honesty and sincerity do so.

Thank you very much for the encouragement you have given me through your comment.


elimentree profile image

elimentree 6 years ago from New York

You're welcome!


Sarahredhead profile image

Sarahredhead 5 years ago from Southern United States

GREAT hub!!! Great insight and coping skills. They should teach this in schools! Haven't we all had to deal with this somewhere in our lives.


raisingme profile image

raisingme 5 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia Author

Thank you for the visit and the comment Sarahredhead. I agree we have all had to deal with this at some point - either by being on the receiving end of it or through the action of our own complaining we have visited this particular wretch from both sides of the proverbial fence.

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