Whining as an Art Form--How To Deal With Artists
Some people are artists. They express themselves by creating new and exciting pieces of art for others to admire or criticize. They keep critics employed. Whiners are artists, too. They have the artistic temperament; they express themselves (sometimes endlessly) to anyone who will listen. They are not content to whine briefly, but must continue to restate their whining using different phrasing. Perhaps an analogy. Anything to get the listener’s attention to their current “artistic” creation.
Perhaps you know a whiner or are even related to one. They make for a very one sided conversation. What’s worse, if you ask a single question, it’s the same as giving them permission to expound with enthusiasm in their quest to let you know every single current concern. A nod can have the same effect, or a smile. Or a sideways look. Or even a grunt.
A whiner’s favorite subject of course, is themselves, and the way the world has been ignoring, mistreating or otherwise maligning them and their reputation. If someone does something nice for them they have no frame of reference in which to translate the aberrant behavior and so pass it off as an anomaly. Being a rare occurrence, the person who treated them decently is therefore a weirdo, and acknowledging that there are weirdoes in his universe means that weird things will happen and in fact, can be listed ad infinitum by the whiner.
Do not encourage a whiner. If you see a whiner coming your way, pretend to be completely absorbed in the report you are carrying down the hallway. If you are hailed by the whiner, explain quickly that you are recruiting volunteers to help serve breakfast at the homeless shelter and could you put his name down for Saturday morning.
If you get trapped in an elevator with a whiner, this will require all the wily skills you have to deflect his negative whining. You might mention that you have been coming down with a cold all day and work up a really good sneeze. Mention that your partner is getting his test results back tonight and you’re getting ready for a night of romance. Tell the whiner that your parents can’t afford to help you with a car down payment and you were wondering if you could ask a big favor.
Get creative and you might come up with a successful strategy that could have the whiner avoiding you for a long time. This could help the whiner keep his negativity in check, which will be helpful for everyone concerned. Your co-workers will be grateful for your thoughtfulness and may even suggest a few strategies of their own. You could actually improve the morale of the entire office. It's a win-win for everyone