How to deal with whiners
BY 鱼遨游 from 21st Century
Published 2012-10-24

There are always some people exuding negativity in the workplace. For them, the temperature is never right, the boss is always a jerk, the canteen food is lousy, and they are always treated unfairly.

Career experts say such chronic complainers are highly contagious and that their attitude can easily affect an entire team in a company.

“While some complaints might be reasonable, others are taken from thin air. You need to discern between these different types and adopt the right tactic towards each,” said Li Ling, HR manager at Walmart (China) Investment Co Ltd.

It’s especially hard to deal with complaints at work because you can’t just walk away or dismiss your colleagues’ grumbling. If you do, it will hurt your co-workers’ self-esteem and you might be isolated. In a team-based company you belong to a group and need to behave accordingly.

But don’t show too much sympathy. Listening passively to others’ complaints could damage your image and give others the impression that you agree with them.

Whining can negatively impact on work productivity and even your health. This is similar everywhere. The Wall Street Journal reported in September that 18 percent of US employees complain about their colleagues, according to a Gallup poll of 31,265 employees.

The research shows that “work groups with a high rate of negativity tend to have lower productivity and higher rates of absenteeism and quality defects”.

“Listen to the whiners actively,” says HR Li. “Help them find a solution, or see if there are ways to improve the situation.”

Zhai Min, 24, a software engineer at Kingdee International Software Group in Shenzhen, found that three elderly workers liked to complain about everything, from prolonged working hours to cheap hotels on business trips.

“I let them talk about their opinions,” she said. “They feel better when they can tell someone how they want things to be.”

But listening actively is far from enough. Wang Dianxue, 27, is an Internet engineer at Beijing Push Marcom Group.

His peers always complain that their computer systems are not working properly. “I ask about the specifics and work together with them to fix everything technically,” he said.

HR managers believe that when staff complain, it is more a matter of perception than an actual problem.

“The real problem is that the whiners don’t feel they are being taken seriously,” said Xu Jun, HR manager at Guangqi Honda Automobile Co Ltd. “When you attentively give them advice or ideas, the problem usually disappears.”

But it’s important to know your limits when advising co-workers.

“Your role is not to provide comprehensive career advice or long-term recommendations,” said Xu. “Instead, you just point out a positive direction for others to follow.”

For some, complaining can be a lifelong habit. “Long-term complaining saps your energy and positive outlook,” said Hou Zhendong, HR manager at General Electric. “If you disagree with your colleagues’ whining, try to tactfully move on to more positive subjects.”

(Translator & Editor: 21英语 Louise AND Aaron)
exude  使流出,使渗出
jerk  性情古怪的人
lousy  糟糕的
chronic  慢性的,延续很长的
contagious  会感染的
thin air  无影无踪,虚无的状态
discern  辨别,看清楚
dismiss  解散,下课
grumble  抱怨
self-esteem  自尊,自负
whine  抱怨,牢骚
productivity  生产率,多产
absenteeism  旷课,旷工
defect  过失,缺点
perception  感知,感觉
sap  使衰竭
tactful  机智的,得体的


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