Top 10 reasons why constant complaining is so toxic in the workplace

Workplace complainers
Back when I was still working in the tech industry (I was a software developer for a small consulting company in my second job out of university) I had a boss that was… shall we say unpopular. My co-workers and I hated his guts and we complained ceaselessly about him.

It got to the point where we couldn’t start a meeting, have lunch in the cafeteria, or even go out for a beer without spending half an hour complaining about him.

We whined about his attitude, his stupidity, his meddling, his spinelessness … hell, even his dress sense came under fire. But then again, he is the only manager who has ever interviewed me wearing a narrow 80s-style purple, fake-leather tie.

But did we ever tell him? Nooooooo! While we were bitching and moaning to ourselves, he blithely went on as usual because no one ever complained to him. Which might’ve made sense when you think about it…

Looking back, I’m not sure that complaining to him would have worked – I think he was incorrigible – but one thing is for damn sure: Out bitching about it, fun though it may have been, did not improve things one little bit.

Because that kind of chronic complaining, justified or not, in the workplace leads to no good. In fact, in can be downright toxic and can make a department or even a whole company a terrible place to work.

Here’s why constant complaining is so bad:

1: It makes things look worse than they are
When people complain, they focus only on what’s wrong. Things may be mostly fine in the company, but complainers only talk about the problems, annoyances and peeves they perceive.

If things in a company are 80% good and 20% bad and you spend most of your time thinking and talking about the bad 20% – the situation will look a lot worse than it really is.

2: It becomes a habit
The more you complain, the easier it gets. In the end, everything is bad, every situation is a problem, every co-worker is a jerk and nothing is good.

The more you focus on the negative, the harder it gets to switch into a positive mindset.

3: You get what you focus on
According to Wikipedia, Confirmation bias is:

…a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions and avoid information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.

In other words, what you already believe influences your perception of everything around you. That’s why constant complaining makes you see everything in a negative light, because your subconscious mind tries to make new observation fit with what you already know.

4: It leads to onedownmanship
A complaining session might go something like this:

The other day, my boss came in 5 minutes before I was leaving and asked me to finish two huge projects for him. I had to stay two hours and missed my football game.

Yeah, well my boss told me to work this weekend AND the next.

Hah, that’s nothing! My boss…

This type of interaction rewards the person with the worst story who can complain the loudest. Not healthy!

5: It makes people despondent
Not only does constant complaining make you see the workplace as worse than it really is, but because you’re constantly hearing stories of how bad things are and how they’re constantly getting worse it also destroys all hope that things can get better.

This of course makes people less likely to take action to improve their situation, because everybody knows it’s doomed to fail anyway.

6: It kills innovation
Because the situations looks so hopeless, people become less creative and innovative. What’s the point of coming up with ideas and implementing them – it’s never going to work anyway.

Also, chronic complainers are the first to shoot down any new idea.

7: It favors negative people
The way to get status among complainers is to be the most negative. To be the one who sees everything in the most negative light.

Any attempt to be positive or cheerful will be shot down and optimists will be accused of being Pollyanna, naive and unrealistic.

8: It promotes bad relationships
People who complain together unite against the world and can create strong internal relationships based on this. But these relationships are based mostly on negative experiences. That’s not healthy.

It also means that you can only continue to be a part of the group if you can continue to complain, miring you even deeper in a complaint mindset.

9: It creates cliques
Being positive, optimistic and appreciative makes you more open towards other people – no matter who they are. It becomes easy to connect to co-workers in other departments, projects or divisions.

Complaining, on the other hand, makes people gather in cliques with their fellow complainers where they can be critical and suspicious of everybody else.

10: Pessimism is bad for you
Research in positive psychology has shown that people who see the world in a positive light have a long list of advantages, including:

  • They live longer
  • They’re healthier
  • They have more friends and better social lives
  • They enjoy life more
  • They’re more successful at work

We sometimes think that pessimists and complainers have the edge because they see problems sooner but the truth is that optimists not only lead better lives, they’re also more successful because they believe that what they’re doing is going to work.

The upshot

Constant complaining in the workplace is toxic. It can drain the happiness, motivation, creativity and fun from a whole company. Wherever it’s going on it must be addressed and handled properly.

I’m NOT saying that we should never complain at work – quite the contrary. If you see a problem in your workplace, complain to whoever can do something about it.

What we should avoid at all costs, is constant bitching and moaning, where we’re always complaining about the same things, to the same people, in the same way, day in and day out.

So what can we do about it? Well first of all, each of us can learn to complain constructively. This means learning to complain in a way that leads to the problem being fixed – rather than to more complaining. Here’s my post on how you can How to complain constructively.

Secondly, we can learn to deal with the chronic complainers we meet at work. Unfortunately, our traditional strategies like trying to cheer them up or suggesting solutions for their problems don’t work because complainers aren’t looking for encouragement or solutions. Here’s my post on how to deal with chronic complainers.

Finally, you can train your own ability to be positive. Just like complaining can become a habit, so can being appreciative, optimistic and grateful. You could declare today a positive day, you could take a few minutes at the end of every work day to write down five good experiences from that day or you could praise a co-worker.

Try it and let me know how it goes!

Your take

But what do you think? Do you know any chronic complainers at work? What is their impact? How do you complain, when you see a problem?

Please write a comment, I’d really like to know!


Here are some related posts about workplace complaining:

90 thoughts on “Top 10 reasons why constant complaining is so toxic in the workplace”

  1. I broadly agree with this post, except that, well, right after reading it, my feed reader served up a post from another blogger I enjoy reading called “The Right to Complain“. She and I are both academics, and there’s certainly a culture among many academics to complain about the system we’re in. I’ve found your blog, among others, helpful in trying to figure out what it is that I’m not happy about in my job, and what I am happy about, and which things, if any, I want to change.

    Anyway, coming just after each other like that, two posts on complaining that argue very differently. Dr. Crazy argues that academic jobs are extremely difficult, because of the large investment in time and money you’ve put into getting there (thank you Norway for better funding), the large amount of “invisible” work that goes into research, publishing, administration etc, and your lack of choice in where you live, among other things (I’m lucky, I work where I want to live). Yet people tend to think it’s a cushy job, “you only work 12 hours a week”! (that’s the classroom hours).

    If you have time, I’d love to hear your opinion after reading her post. Could there be a kind of complaining that’s not directed to someone like the boss, but – well, with an idea that perhaps one should complain to the people who can change things, and those people are sometimes yourself and your colleagues?

  2. I’m working at a place where we have a… challenging boss. One could take the position that he is a horrible boss, and complain all the time, but the fact remains the guy does have a few redeeming qualities, and when we keep that firmly in mind, we all feel a lot better. And, we all like our jobs, the work we are doing, and the other people in the office. So? It’s not perfect, but there is power in positive thinking.

  3. I work in a public school in the US. Every single person in the city, county, state and nation has an opinion of public education and it is mostly negative. They vote. It is their children and grandchildren we provide services to. They write Letters to the Editor. They attend Board of Education meetings. Sometimes they are correct and we know it.
    I guess I am adding here that the extremely negative information and gossip can come also from outside the system.

  4. Jill: Thanks for the excellent link. I’m posting a blog post tomorrow with my thoughts on this.

    Tim: Thank you my friend :o)

    Challenging: That’s a great example and a wonderful way to apply this. There might be some more useful info here:

    Cheryl: Good point – and again you have constructive and destructive complaining from outside the workplace. And I see a lot of destructive complaining about schools these days.

  5. I don’t agree at all. Why are these people complaining in the first instance is the real question here! Is it because of the new Industrial Relations (IR) that have come to be part of the Australian work force. The bosses are not having their claim for pay increases or totally unreal bonuses down graded. Wait for the next large group of people seeking a $17.00 per week pay increase. Watch for the Employers coming out of the wood work stating that it would lead to job loses and inflation. Ok maybe, but when the boss gets an extra $500,000 per year that doesn’t have any effect upon job creation and inflation. Look at the Macquarie Bank Top Executives getting paid as much as AUS$32 Million per year. Now how can that be correct. Even Mr Busch (the Head Cop of the World) only gets tops US$1Milllion . No wonder workers complain.

  6. Sometimes complaining to your coworkers is the most constructive form of complaining, because when management discourages feedback, employee disgruntlement (and rising costs and lowered productivity from it) may be the only form of feedback that will register with them. The mutual complaining among employees also creates a sense of comraderie against management and puts people more in the mood to withdraw their consent to management authority and wage guerrilla war in all sorts of interesting ways.

    Perhaps the most constructive form of criticism, though, is to the customer: what the Wobblies call “open mouth sabotage.” In a non-union workplace, where management takes draconian measures against perceived insubordination (where I work, a group of employees writing a joint letter to management were told by their immediate supervisor that it would be grounds for termination, because it constituted “organizing”), the employer’s good name in the community and with customers may be the only leverage you have over him. So any time I have a patient I feel I can trust, I let them know in detail all the inside dirt on the administration’s mismanagement, and how a one-time community hospital has been run into the ground by its new corporate owners. I also encourage them to voice their own concerns with understaffing and poor quality of care when they fill out their exit surveys.

    Interestingly, the patient satisfaction surveys came back last year with lots of written comments about understaffing and the patient care load on nursing staff. And not long afterward, one of the talking points management passed down for ward staff meetings was “don’t ever tell a patient they’re not getting a bath, or whatever, because of understaffing–it undermines the confidence they’re entitled to feel.” So apparently it does get through.

  7. chiefscribe: You point to some large scale trends that are seriously affecting our happiness at work. And I’m definitely not saying that employees should not complain – my point is this: What does your complaining do for you?

    If it makes you and others feel better, if it increases solidarity and if it can inspire people to take action, then complain away.

    However, if we’re not careful, chronic workplace complaining has the opposite effect – it makes people feel worse, it saps their energy and strength and makes them give up in advance.

    Kevin: Great point. Again, complaining that leads to action is good. Complaining that leads to inaction is bad.

    Interestingly, in the example you mention, complaining to the customers seems to have led to results, or at least to management finally realizing that there is a problem.

    In that case, I have to marvel at much effort it must take for management to remain ignorant of this level of dissatisfaction among their people. Are these managers clueless or actively disinterested?

  8. Alex, great post. Research shows that the most successful companies are 5:1 positive in their internal interaction. The “1” is not mere complaining, though. It may be dealing with the brutal facts when there is a genuine challenge in the organization. While it is not always easy, given (as noted above) bosses, coworkers, parents, etc., clearly each of us has a choice.

  9. “Are these managers clueless or actively disinterested?”

    A little of both, I think. They seem to be genuinely unaware, thanks to the MBA culture, of just how pennywise/pound foolish their “cost cutting” measures are.

    But even if they knew understaffing cost more in falls, errors, infections, etc., than they were saving in labor, they would probably choose to disregard it: it would mean that the main target for appropriate cost-cutting would be their own management featherbedding and capital projects undertaken for prestige value rather than functionality–and they certainly won’t dismantle their own bureaucratic empires for the sake of the shareholders!

    The person who implemented the most draconian wave of downsizings was originally an outside consultant, brought in and made head of HR. She also was in charge of introducing Fish! Philosophy, believe it or not. She was utterly amoral, IMO. And when all the negative feedback started coming in with the employee satisfaction surveys and so forth, she got fired–they made a scapegoat of her when she was doing exactly what the MBAs brought in to do. So they’re probably as Macchiavellian as she was; they just combine amorality with cluelessness about what actually works. When you have that combination of mean and stupid, you get some real problems.

  10. Kevin Carson, It is called survival at all & any costs. The MBA’s are MBA’s only because that is what society has demanded. They are not necessarily any better that my original employer in the work place I entered into way back in 1968!! Gone are the days of people leaving school aged 15 years with the bare minimum education. To get a employment position paying any thing like half decent money (I say about $50,000 per annum) the prospective employer demands of you to have uni education in basket weaving or the like. Why do you have to have wasted 4 years of your productive life to be a half decent Adminstration/HR person? This ongoing pressure does nothing for a hay working environment? I have An Advance Diploma in both Goverfnment & Administration. Both awarded to me by the Australian Government as a result of the employment I was undertaking over a period of 25 years, but I was producing a product for the Boss the whole time. That made me happy because I was being paid for every day and didn’t get left with a HECS that I then had to repay to the Australian Government.

  11. Very good point, chiefscribe. Credentialism performs an essential function from the standpoint of the system: it acts as a sort of tollgate preventing those with skills from passing them on to others in an informal manner, and preventing as well the direct transformation of one’s labor power into consumption without paying tolls to the gatekeepers.

    Ivan Illich gave the example of self-built housing. As late as the 1940s, in Massachusetts, some one third of new housing was self-built. At the time he wrote Tools for Conviviality, in the 1970s, modular construction and other user-friendly technologies made self-building far, far easier than it had been thirty years before, and yet the “safety” codes pushed through by contractors to cartelize the industry essentially outlawed it–unless you wanted to move outside the city limits into a relatively unregulated county. And obviously, earthships and other unorthodox building techniques are ruled out inside city limits by all sorts of design and aesthetic ordinances.

    Anti-jitney laws restricting cab service to medallions perform a similar function. Ditto laws passed by the “professional” licensing cartels prohibiting physicians’ assistants from providing even simple forms of care without an MD’s supervison, and preventing dental assistants from even cleaning teeth on their own without dental supervision.

    Forcing people to spend extra years in higher education, when they’d only need a few months of on-the-job training to pick up the relevant skill, performs another useful function: it provides a labor force which has learned that the way to advance in life is to find out what the authority figure behind the desk wants, and then do it, accepting meaningless tasks without question so long as they are assigned by the “proper authorities.” So you wind up with a labor force trained in the bureaucratic toadyism, ready to jump through all the hoops for a salary increase or another line item on the resume, just like the schoolkid did it for a gold star on his paper.

    It’s also very good for inculating a meritocratic ideology, that more education is the key to everything. Those who get into top managerial and technical positions develop an attitude that anyone who didn’t make it through the meritocracy is just shiftless and lazy. That’s the fallacy of composition. As Joe Bageant pointed out, the Empire needs only about 20% of its population for managerial, technical, and administrative jobs. But it encourages half the population to go to college and fight each other ruthlessly for the limited number of openings, and proclaims the official ideology that everyone can be a manager or technician if everybody goes to college. “If you work hard enough building pyramids, you too can be Pharaoh someday!” And naturally, this is just another aspect of the broader ideological technique of diverting working and middle class resentment toward the “lazy” and “irresponsible” underclass, rather than the plutocracy.

  12. Thank you for this article, Alexander! For me, you have hit the nail on the head. I am the person living in your opening paragraph, and on top of that our company is shutting down in 3 months, which adds even more angst! Our boss has been out of town the past week, which has really been an eye opener to the amount of complaing that really goes on. Things have been a lot more positive since his departure, and now that he’ll be returning on Monday, I’m determined to enjoy and make the best of these last three months we have left. Thank you for the motivation! You’ve made perfect sense to me.

  13. i enjoyed your tips and will like to other some of your books. how do i order them

  14. Great column! Lots of ideas to ponder. I believe there is destructive complaining along with constructive complaining. The destructive way will certainly bring down an organization if left unaddressed. Done in a gracious and proper manner, constructive complaining can be useful to not only to the company’s bottom line, but also the morale of the employees and the increased productivity it brings.
    I look forward to reading more of your articles/columns.

  15. I know that the USA is a God fearing country, but you guys are just unbelievable. I can see you all saying helleula praise be to you and all that rot. I am complaining about you bunch of do gooders in the above comments. Or are you all out of work Sunday School teachers from the childrens section of your local Mormans church?

    I am now HAPPY now that I have said that. I am now going to wait to be told by Big Brother that this is a happy thread not a complaining thread!

  16. This was a very good article. I agree with most of it. I am usually very quiet at work, I keep to myself but am very friendly, accomodating to people that I work with and have never had a complaint in about 3 years working at my place of business. Last week, I came in to talk with my boss about something that bothered me (not a complaint about a person, but something policy related) I asked if I could come talk to him once or twice a year when something bothered me and he basically said unless it is something that HE deems worthy, he would bitch me out of the office. He tends to overreact sometimes and he said to me “I get more complaints about YOU than any other person in the back” OBVIOUSLY this did not make me feel too good and I am not sure why he would say that, other than a snap attack. I am feeling very back-stabbed as I have NEVER complained about anyone back here…HELP!

  17. It seems as if this article was written by management. The old “Divide and Conquer” theory. After expressing our concerns with unfair treatment in the workplace to HR we were told that “HR works for management” so that leaves any non-union workplace with no support.
    I agree that complaining among co workers creates a certain unity. The current trend(at least in the US) is more work, less pay. I think one of the biggest problems any workplace has is ‘too many chiefs, not enough indians’. Normally, the non-productive(not all)’chiefs’ have absolutely no clue what the productive ‘indians’ responsibilities are. It’s funny that our company is amazingly productive when there are no ‘Chief’s’ present. I’m guessing that we could cut the complaining when we ‘cut the fat’.

  18. I totally agree with tbeck of the 30Mar08. HR personnel are in my opinion snakes that can never be trusted with workers rights, conditions of service or salary rates.

    Management would really like Australian workers to revert to the Rate of pay that the majority of Chinese in China receive (e.g. US$180 per month with only 2 days off in the entire month).

    Why is it ok for CEO’s (e.g macQuarie Bank in australia to pay its top 2 management AUS$29Million &AUS$32Million respectively) to receive over the top Salary & bonuses but for the average Australian worker of AUS$52,000 per year to seek an extra AUS$20 per week is just out of the question.

    The Big end of twon gets greedier off the hard work and unpaid basic workers and that’s the way management like it.

    And don’t even try and justify that old chestnut that if you don’t pay CEO’s top of the range dollars then you get monkeys. The same goes for basic workers except Management and their Associations fight to not pay any worker one cent more.

    SHAME SHAME SHAN for all Bosses.

  19. I used to work in a toxic workgroup, and I recognized it for what it was right from Day One. Their little clique of complainers undermined upper management and wasted a lot of time. I refused to participate when things turned pointlessly negative, and when I found myself in a one-on-one conversation with a whiner I’d put an end to it by urging them to stop talking to *me* and call up whoever had ticked them off this latest time.

    This saved my sanity, but the price was being excluded from useful information. I had to develop my own network of positive people who I could vent to (about the gossipers, of course!) but since this wasn’t a competitive sport for us we kept it brief and mainly just chatted at work. Useful information usually came to me eventually through my own circle or through official channels. Still, it was annoying to be cut out of the loop.

  20. why do non-complainers like to complain about complainers so much? It detracts us from our critical thinking process and our duty to present the other side of the Truth for the greater good of all. All you non complainers do is whine about us and bitch, bitch, bitch. Jeez. All that sunshine and lollipop living has made you cranky.

  21. I’m in a situation where all my co-workers and myself are frustrated with our supervisor. They constantly complained about this person, but never do anything to improve the situation. I don’t want to be a part of this the complaining anymore. I sick of complaining and not having a solution for it, but then I don’t want them to feel that I have turned on them, and alienate myself from my co-workers. Any ideas?

  22. A person in the workplace who complains about just about
    everything, wants to be in control of everything and everyone
    around them. In a way they create strife in the workplace and
    cause everyone’s moral to go down. I happen to like my job,
    especially when unemployment in our country is sky high right
    now. The two complainers in my workplace won’t quit and look for other jobs, as they are cowards. They even show disrespect for
    our manager in our kitchen, who by the way is doing an excellent
    job (this is her second year).

  23. Thanks for a very informative read. I see myself complaining more and more at my job. Hopefully, I can turn things around using the insight you have provided.

  24. This exactly describes my current workplace. I’ve been here 7 years and the last 3 have been HELL and I’m actively looking to get out. I’m sorry to confess that I started the complaining habit. And since I was favoured by the management and got whatever I asked for, the others who were envious thought that if they complained more and acted like me (indignant about everything) they too could enjoy my status. Unfortunately, i was also given certain high profile projects (more fuel for their envy) whcih I was the first to admit, I was not equal to. Somehow they got done but I’m being targetted with a vengeance. Ours is a department where there is no upward promotion, so people vie for recognition and there’s precious little going around. Now there’s a clique of negative people who compete as to who has the right to be more indignant. Since I observed this negative trend, I have kept myself out of their way, inwardly sorry that I did not set a better example. But now I am almost ceaselessly targetted and I can’t say I’m not bothered by it.

  25. A valuable lesson learned. You DO reap what you sow! I’ve learned as an employee and a parent, the only way to get positive results is to lead by example.

    I wish you well.

  26. I take pride in my work. Most of my coworkers are constant complainers and whine, bitch, cry about everything they have to do or what someone else did/didn’t do. Althought I dont agree, I have been labelled a bragger because I would rather look at the positive aspects of my work as opposed to bellyaching all day. At the end of the day, they can say what they like because I go home happy with my day while they probably go home stressed out.

  27. You’re probably right on most of the reasons but I hate you any way and would like to complain about you because I am working on Christmas Eve.

  28. Yes, I agree. complaining in the workplace is just asking for trouble. But sometimes you just have to let it out. I have a great place for that and you won’t get in trouble with your boss. It’s called It’s great because you don’t have to be afraid to let it all out (within reason) and you don’t have to worry about what people will think of you because you don’t put in your whole name. Its just a nice to be able to gripe and not worry about the hype :) is where America loves to Gripe!

  29. I think complaining can be healthy, if it is done correctly and in reason. It’s been said that holding distress in and/or pretending life is always perfect, when reality is not the case, can have a negative influence on both physical health and state of mind. I try not to make a regular habit of it, but sometimes I like to go to an anonymous complaint site like and just let ‘er rip. A good physical workout seems helps too. I almost always feel better after a good day of work, as opposed to a day that I just bummed around. Regardless of what works for you, I feel it is important to find an outlet for all of the stress that we have to deal with in today

  30. I quit my first job out of college about a year ago now. The reason I said was to focus on more schooling but in actuality it was because I was king of the complainers. This post is very accurate and I have to agree with it 100 percent. I had created cliques within my company and had become a real threat to the integrity of the company. At this point I noticed my productivity was going down the toilet and I was starting to not care. Everyone was lying to one anther and lower level management had given up on fighting for us individually or so I felt. Having had a year to reflect on everything and and looking back and analizing all my bosses decisions. I know see that there may have been some things wrong with the company but it was not any of those things that made it a unbearable place to work it was me. I constantly complained about everything from taking away from our department to demanding faster deadlines to the lack of health insurance and so on. It got the point where I spent every second of every day complaining about something. My boss was far to nice to fire me and was and is still a great guy. However after going for a walk one day I took a reflective moment and realized that my complaining was tearing apart our company. Back then I had no clue how to address this problem but I knew it needed solved so did the only thing I could think of and quit. Now a year latter I talk to individuals in the company and they say that the company atmosphere is great. there is still a bit of arguing but there is no power struggle anymore and no one is there to be the constant negative reinforcement for everyone. I share my story in the hopes that others will not make the same mistake I did. I lost a great job with wonderful people and burdened my family because I couldn’t stop complaining. If you work in any field and have a complaint do what you can to fix it. Unless you are constantly taking active steps to fix your problems you have no right to complain. Don’t focus on the negative in school settings you have power you have a voice let it be heard. Some things are worth fighting for don’t be afraid to fight. There will always be a new job a new chance but if you stop fighting if you just accept that things are the way they are and complain about it that is only true time you lose. Thank you for taking the time to read this and feel free to email me back your thoughts. Sorry for any misspellings or punctuation problems I am not very good a writing. Feel free to leave feedback and thank you again.

    Sincerely yours Jonathan Greene

  31. Thank you for sharing your story Jonathan.

    I must admit that I recognised myself in every word you wrote. I even annoy myself with constantly seeing the negative in every person at work. I wish I could stop my negative thoughts but I don’t know how. Whatever my colleagues are doing it’s never good enough to me. Even if they do a great performance I will acknowledge it BUT I will find at least one negative thing and will ruin the whole atmosphere by saying my negative thought.

    I must say that I am a very senior person at work, very often in a charge of the whole workplace. I am a very positive example with my knowledge and diligence but a very negative example with my negativity.

    I decided to try a day without complaining tomorrow. It will be a ‘bitting my tongue’ day!

  32. I’m a professional having a rough time getting enough freelance work so when I was offered a part-time job in a small independent store I was thrilled to get it. The work is physically demanding and low-paying and that’s just fine! It gives me the extra money I need to sustain myself while improving my professional situation. But a complainer is driving me up the wall with constant complaints about another coworker. I’ve been there less than a month and I’m still learning my job routine. The complainer and the complained-about have both been there much longer. I understand the complainer wants a sympathetic ear but I’ve made it clear I’m in no position to judge how someone else is doing a job since I’m new and just want to do what I’m hired to do and get along. Yesterday at least a third of everything the complainer said was something against the other coworker. The complainer says the boss knows of the complaints and won’t do anything. I don’t know how to tell the complainer to stop because I need the job and the training the complainer is still providing me. Other than this situation, I get along great with the complainer and the person complained about. I don’t want to leave a job I just started that fits my life well for several reasons. As a newbie, I don’t feel I should go to the boss with this. It’s such a small staff that the complainer would know who spoke up. The stress is making me sick and spilling over into the professional work I do the rest of the time. Short of leaving, what can I do? Thanks for any help!

  33. I do complain but I wouldn’t consider myself a chronic complainer; I consider myself a hard, loyal and dedicated worker who has dedicated 10 years to an organization with 10 years of exemplary supervisory evaluation to attest to that. However, when you witness first hand people that are lazy, complaining slackers; people you taught the runnings of the department being promoted and receiving undeserving accolades because they are willing to worship and lick the boots of the director then there are two things you can do; complain about it or find work else where. And I am actively searching else where (yesterday wouldn’t be soon enough) and no longer complaining because I know you reap what you sow and karma is real . So that director who would rather move up “yes men and yes women” knowing that they are lazy slackers but good boot lickers that makes her feel like she knows everything will reap the same in due time. Karma! The article was good but there is validity to the gripes that some people in the work place have and constructive ways to deal with them in some organizations, but not this one. What about the boss who exercise divide and conguer amoung staff by promoting and giving raises to undeserving staff; and want to have their own clique in the work place? Don’t forget their existence when you write your next article; they deserve some recognition.

  34. I’m sure you can guess why I’ve read this blog.
    I thought it was a great top 10 list and I believe it is spot on!
    It’s helped to remind me to remain optimistic!

    Thank you

  35. Will Bowen’s book, “A Complain Free World” was a good read for me. I always thought I was one of the most positive people (and I was!) but there turned out to be so much complaining in my life!

    I find that people only complain about things they can change. Which really says something, I think! Don’t like the weather? Move! Or stop complaining…

  36. I see sometimes making a complaint is needed but really. I do housekeeping and I feel that I’m very under payed and treated as I am stupid or not skilled enough to get a better job. I like cleaning and I like to see people enjoy there office or home clean. There is always the complaining department where there tends to be one or two people that complain about things and treat houskeeping as an easy smooth job. It can be frustrating when you can’t make your clients happy. It stupid stuff like trashcans are to puffy or the glass has a mark so on we can’t make it new nor paint but its always us who deal with the negative attitude from our employers to our clients it seems at times that we are less important than others. Please consider what we do for companies.

  37. I used to be a complainer (and maybe still am). In part because I was unhappy.

    Now I don’t complain. For example if say my cup is empty I’ll ask if I coujd get a refill. Or if people are late for meeting as if we should move the meeting time.

    At the moment I’m sting by the pool of a company vacation home. The neighbours AC is noisy. Instead of complaining I’ve made a video and sent to the person in charge of the home saying “an afternoon by the pool.” Either they get IT ir they don’t. Either they can address it or they can’t.

    I don’t complain. I see if there is something constructive that can be done. It is a changed mindset. People now respond positively to me.

  38. Brilliant! I’m a Deputy Nurse Manager and this post has just helped me have light bulb moment about some of our staff ‘groups’ who complain negatively. There’s a lot to take on board when you apply it to your own life but it’s lush!
    It’s given me a new supercharge of motivation to my own job so thanks for that!
    There’s always gonna be the haters/whingers/whiners/complainers but they just show themselves up for what they are, and it’s so unattractive but I guess when they are neck deep in their own mindsets, it can be hard to break out of it.
    Keep up the posts, I for one (of many) find them helpful and encouraging!

  39. Hi,
    I agree with what you are pointing out in this article. However, When you are over worked and under paid with no way out other than quitting, Depression starts to set in. Frustration builds because of how many hours I have worded day in day out over the 50 years. I have been on this planet a long time with very little gain in my world. You start to feel resentment towards any that is doing better than you. Because of “work” my job I have found myself being now divorced three (3) times, and losing everything to my wife’s, because they have put up with Me never being there for any family or personal events. The job has always won. We all know we need to pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads, but the sacrifice every day to make “The Boss” rich has become very, very hard to deal with. No bonus for good job well done, you just get to keep your JOB. Because you did so well with that project now we need you to do this!!! Working long days and weekends for bad planing people and clients that don’t care about anyone but the corporation they work for. Executives that just leave everything to the last second and we all have to jump to it. I grew up positive and have now ended up very negative to the way we all live… Everyone on this planet is sick and tired of being taken advantage of. I want to feel like there is a good side to all of this but I and others I work with do not see it. Here it is… The rich get richer and poor (worker bees) can go to hell.

  40. This article is so on point! Unfortunately, no matter were you work, as humans, we will always see the issues first. Why? bc we are human, imperfect, cruel and malicious beings. people that constantly complain about the same issues and the same people will one day complain about you!!! behind your back!! so think twice before joining the vicious circle!! KARMA!

    ALSO, Thank whoever you believe in for even having a JOB!! There are a ton of people out there that do not have anything!

  41. My cubicle workmate is a constant complainer. I really like my coworker a lot but the constant complaining is getting to me. From Monday morning at 9:00 a.m., until Friday 5:00 p.m., my coworker is going to complain non-stop. I try very hard not to get sucked into it but I do. Of course that drags me down. I feel my work performance is suffering. Any suggestions?

    Thank you,

  42. Hi,
    Thanks for your article. It is very interesting to spot the existence of chronic complainers at workplace. I have a friend at univ. Every time we went out having fun, she kept talking about the negative things at univ, toxic people she met at work and checking things on mobile phone. Previously I tried my best to comfort her by sharing my negative feelings, or encouraging her or giving good words to her current achievements. None of my ways worked out. Now every time hanging out with her seems miserable. In the past, when she felt sad, she would come over to my dorm and spent the night with me talking about the sadness. A while later, I found that the “night” usually drained my energy and made me feel sad and tired in the next few days. I would like to help her but I have the fear that getting close to her would suck up my positive energy. I don’t know what to do now. I feel very tired.

  43. I work in a factory, and half the time I see this smug co-worker standing around talking whenever I see him. Nobody works hard unless they are loading the packages onto the trucks. Giving 120% does not even get you noticed. THAT is what makes me complain, if anything- you have to get to “know” people to advance(ugh). Other than that, the job is a breeze and I have no complaints

  44. I really liked this article and would like to share my experience with my most recent employer. I worked in a company for only 3 months and then got terminated, it was no surprise as my managers always pointed out my mistakes and always had something to complain about. Prior to that role, I had worked in a similar company for only 7 months as a freelancer and learned a thing or 2 about the industry I worked in, but clearly that is not enough for anyone to be an expert in their field. The higher ups in that most recent company knew i had very little experience and even pointed out in the interview that it was my only disadvantage, but they still had really high expectations for a junior. Since my first month they would always look for something negative to complain about, and after telling me that lack of experience is my only disadvantage, they said we hired you for the experience and knowledge you have and we should not expect you to make those mistakes. No training was provided because apparently they have no time to train, their expectations were too high, and they fired me for not being at the level they would expect me to be at 3 months into the job. If they hire someone knowing they are not experienced, they should either train them or just put up with them until they adapt to the environement and culture at the organization, even employees with 5-10 years of experience under their belt would require some training and time to adjust, so if they hire people as young as me (25 years old), dont even bother training them, and in a lot if cases dont even give them clear instructions, then they should put up with us making mistakes and learning, and should not expect anything more than hard work, dedication, a positive attitude, a willingness to work and learn, and last but not least, progress. My colleagues pointed out that O have displayed all of the above, but the higher ups clearly did not appreciate that. Not only were they complaining, but they were also blaming me for stuff that is really beyond my control. They complained about how one of the cliwnts wants to terminate the contract, if i had only been in the company for 3 months and they had been working with that client for 9 months, then it cannot possibly be my fault.
    Another instance is when my director asked my colleagues to check my work and another one of my colleagues work before submitting to her because she finds herself doing some stuff from scratch, then she pointed out they are being reactive and only doing what the clients ask for, I fail to see how could this possibly be our fault? So does that mean they were always proactive but that suddenlychanged when my colleague and i joined?
    Another thing i would like to point out is that my colleague and i joined at the same time and it was the beginning of a very busy period when clients begin to send so many requests and workload gets heavier, we were so unlucky because we did not get trained and also due to the senior management being under tremendous pressure, there was no room for error and every mistake we made was being noticed and highlighted.
    Am not happy I got fired, but I was in an industry that I disliked, and I certainly dont want to be in a place where my hard work is not appreciated and my best is not good enough, amd I can assure you I have never worked as hard as I had worked in my most recent role.

  45. I love how employees think that HR should solve all their workplace problems. This cures their need for any personal accountability or investment of work in being part of the solution. So many employees want to hide behind HR and for HR people it’s a drain. Most often, the employee doesn’t have the moral courage to deal with the problem head on by addressing it with the appropriate individuals. They’d rather just punt and let their Office Mommy or Daddy fix it. As an HR professional, I’m SO tired of the whiney, entitled employees of today who think everything is about them and employers are responsible for their happiness at work or lack thereof. Don’t like your boss’s management style? Then adapt, tell them and find some middle ground or quit. Happiness is a personal responsibility. If you want to be a Victocrat, then own your position and see how miserable you life will be. Some people love victimhood and negativity.

  46. I recently came across this article and I can relate to it in so many ways. Over the past decade, I’ve been working in an open office situation. I remember being a new hire at this particular company and my shadow partners were constantly complaining about how bad the pay was. I felt discouraged even before I started. I didn’t see the point in pumping energy in a job that paid so little. It was the same thing every day, and I spent five years at that company. Eventually, I left because of the pay, but I’m just saying this to say that complaining can crush the vision of a company. It’s the people who make the company what it is and if they are constantly complaining they will turn away potential talents that will be of great benefit to the company’s growth. Even with my current work situation, the complainers are still there but I’m working from home now and it has been of great help.

  47. I’ve seen this cycle at work and it is so destructive. The cliques, the gossip the negativity. It is sometimes focused on management but many times a co-worker. If you stay out of it and maintain a positive outlook many times you become their next target. Management just cant seem to figure out why employees leave that department with 70% turnover per year. #obvious

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