How to Influence People Who Complain All the Time and Stuck in Their Ways
Is This Your Experience?
Let's face it, when you come across someone who is stuck in their ways and who is continually complaining about anything and everything - but then stubbornly refuses to explore any avenue whatsoever to find a possible solution - it gets to be quite annoying, especially if you happen to be on the receiving end of that constant barrage of endless complaints.
You know the type - instead of trying to be a little more optimistic, open minded and eager to find a solution, they adopt an attitude claiming that they already know it all, there's no solution and that this is their lot and burden in life. What's more, along with body language to match that has their arms folded or hand on the hip and "Talk to the hand" stance, you'll probably find them pointing their finger at someone else blaming them for their misery (maybe even you!) True?
I would say that since you are reading this article, it's pretty likely that you have crossed paths with at least one person in your lifetime who displays this type of limiting, narrow minded view of life to one degree or another. If you have, there is no need for me to tell you how frustrating it can be trying to deal with them. You will already know!
What makes things worse is when, with the very best of intentions you try to help them by offering a word of advice, making a suggestion or even pointing out an alternative way of thinking - they dig their heals and maintain their view or continue complaining with even greater conviction than before. When this person also happens to be a close friend or family member, not only can this be frustrating, it can be pretty heartbreaking to watch as well.
However, there are a couple of things you can do to influence people like this, but first, you need to know what you can't do (which is probably the very thing you want to do!)
What You Can't Do
Generally speaking, when we come across someone who complains all the time (or who has any other behavior that becomes annoying or frustrating over time), we wish that they would change their attitude and behaviour - especially if we have to live or work with them. So we offer advice, we try to talk to them, we ignore them, we may even argue with them trying to get them to see reason - all in the hope that they will change and stop the annoying behavior.
Despite how much we try, the truth of the matter is we really can't change anyone, particularly those who are that 'closed minded', they have shut up shop. Sometimes, the more time and energy we spend trying to change another person, regardless of how beneficial that change would be, the more resistant to change (and quite possibly resentful) they will become. The real truth here is, we really only have the power to change ourselves.
However, depending on the type of changes we make in ourselves, sometimes those very changes can bring about effective changes in others as a consequence - sometimes willingly, sometimes not. It's not that we can't help, support or influence people outright in a positive way – we certainly can, but it's usually only when a person wants to change themselves that they may be willing and open enough to hear what we have to offer. When change is forced upon another, especially when they are very much set in their ways, it is extremely rare to find someone who will not become resistant to that change, no matter how well meaning our intentions are.
You see, regardless of how well and how careful we are in expressing ourselves, regardless of how respectful we may think we are being, the underlying message that we relay to a person whom we are trying to help and change is that they are 'flawed', that they are in need of 'fixing' and that they are therefore not acceptable as they are. No one wants to be considered that way, nor would they respond favorably to those labels regardless of where they might be on their own personal development journey and whether they are open minded or not. Be truthful now, would you? So, what can you do? Please read on ...
What You Can Do
There a number of things you can do: There are "internal applications" – those that help you cope, as well as "external applications" – those that may, as a consequence bring about the changes you desire in the other person. The more you adopt, the better your outcome will be, especially if you are exposed to someone with these traits on an ongoing basis.
Internal applications are basically finding ways in which YOU think differently, reframing a situation so that it has a more favorable affect on YOU.
Internal Tip 1
This tip is particularly effective if you are the one complaints are constantly aimed at. In your own mind, ask yourself, "I wonder what has happened in this person's life to make them the way that they are?". What this does is take the focus off the way this person is affecting you and puts the focus on them. The answer you come up with may just also bring you some insight and understanding as to why that person behaves the way that they do. While it is not an excuse for them to do so, there may be valid reasons behind their behavior.
Internal Tip 2
Recognize and be grateful that you yourself are open minded and willing to both continue growing in your own personal development and to explore new possibilities. Sometimes we don't realize how well we are doing nor how much further along we are in life until we come across those who are stuck or not doing as well – so within the frustration that you might be experiencing when dealing with someone with these negative traits, take a moment to recognize the gift and results of your open mindedness and express genuine gratitude for it.
Internal Tip 3
This tip may seem a little outrageous but if you are able to do it, it really does change your internal reaction (without the other person suspecting a thing!). Using your imagination at the time the other person is complaining or nagging, in your mind, change their voice so that it sounds like Mickey Mouse and/or put circus music in the background. Go one step further and visualize them as a cartoon character and add a funny action like their pants falling down. Now a word of caution - be respectful - this is ONLY happening in YOUR mind for YOUR benefit. Seriously, it works!
Internal Tip 4
Accept that there are some people who will never change, despite how much help, how much information is available and how much of a difference it would make in their lives if they were to accept and adopt it. We can never know every aspect of anyone's life to either understand or judge why someone behaves the way that they do – there are far too many variables. So be accepting of others just as we ourselves wish to be accepted and respected.
External applications are things that you physically do that bring about change primarily in yourself and in others as a consequence.
External Tip 1
When the subject of a complaint is about why something isn't happening or why something can't be done, instead of you coming up with solutions and suggestions, instead of arguing, plant a seed in their mind and put the onus back on them by asking them in a subtle manner, "so, how can you ….?" or "so, how could ….. come about?"
External Tip 2
When most people continually repeat a behavior, regardless of how irritating it is to them or others, you will find that there is a secondary gain for them that keeps them doing what they're doing. For example, it may be the only way in which they feel (or do) get attention – negative attention is better than no attention at all, even if it's in the way of an argument. If this is the case, catch them when they are doing something that is more favorable and bring more attention to that behavior – make a comment, even praise them – do something that will give them attention and encouragement for the behavior you want and you will see the unwanted behavior start to diminish.
External Tip 3
Always be ready to help, support and guide this person should they decide to move out of their comfort zone and ask for your help. You will have much more of a positive impact on them when they seek your assistance than when you try to impose it upon them. Have other resources on hand as well, recommend books, kindle books and audio books they can listen to at their leisure. Even if they do not end up accepting or acting upon what you offer, be sure to still acknowledge their willingness to have listened to you as it will encourage them to possibly ask again. They may just need to get used to asking for help a few times to start off with before they actually take some action.
External Tip 4
Be a remarkable role model – people actually learn more from watching what you do rather than being told what to do (especially children!) so show them your best. Some people will consider changing aspects of their life only once they see that it is possible in those whom they know, particularly if those people are close friends and/or family members. Let them see you reading relevant books or better still, if they are in the same environment as you, listen to relevant audio books or mp3 recordings out loud so they can't help but overhear.
External Tip 5
Following on from the previous tip and now knowing that you can only change yourself, be a lifelong learner and continue seeking and learning more about yourself by undertaking continual personal development in a form that suits you. Personal Development is a huge field and is now available in many, many forms including online and offline courses, seminars, through books, kindle books, digital audio books, mp3 recordings, CDs, DVDs and more. Join groups, seek like-minded people and be willing to move out of your comfort zone on a regular basis to experience life to the fullest. Whether it does end up bringing a consequential change in the other person or not, you will definitely be bringing positive change to yourself.
One of the best selling books of all time on how to influence others by Dale Carnegie has now been upgraded and adapted to reflect the digital world we now live in. Highly relevant and effective . Check it out today.