How To Deal With A Coworker Who Complains In 9 Steps

Written By Aleena

If you have a coworker constantly complaining, it can be challenging to stay positive and productive. However, we can help you learn how to deal with a coworker who complains.

A whiny, negative attitude can bring down morale in any workplace.

9 Steps  To Deal With A Coworker Who Complains

If you’ve found yourself stuck next to Debbie Downer’s office, you’re probably wondering how to handle them.

After all, no one wants to be the source of someone else’s misery.

Let’s discuss a few strategies for dealing with a coworker who complains.

1. Avoid Them:

This may seem like an obvious solution, but it’s often the most effective.

If you can, try to steer clear of negative people.

How To Deal With A Coworker Who Complains (2)

You won’t have to hear their complaints, and you can focus on your work.

A coworker who complains is often looking for attention. So, by avoiding them, you’re taking away their power.

Moreover, you don’t want to get dragged down by their negative attitude.

Keep in mind that not every problem needs to be solved. And, not every complaint needs to be acknowledged.

So, if a coworker is complaining about something minor, it’s okay to let it go.

2. Don’t Take It Personally:

If your coworker has a valid complaint, don’t take it personally.

They’re not complaining about you – they’re complaining about the situation.

And, more often than not, there’s nothing you can do to change it.

So, instead of getting defensive, try to empathize with your coworker.

Let them know that you understand how they feel and see if there’s anything you can do to help.

3. Be Polite:

If you can’t avoid them, you’ll need to be polite.

Negative people often feed off of the reactions they get from others. So, if you give them a response, they’re only going to keep complaining.

The best thing you can do is be polite and keep your distance. If they complain about something to you, you can say:

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“That sounds difficult.”

“Thank you for sharing.”

Then, you can move on with your day.

4. Set Boundaries:

It’s important to set boundaries with a coworker who complains.

Otherwise, they’ll think it’s okay to vent to you about every little thing.

Make it clear that you’re not interested in hearing their complaints. Also, show that you’d appreciate it if they kept their negativity to themselves.

You can say something like:

“I understand that you’re upset, but I don’t want to hear about it.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to listen to your complaints.”

“Can we please talk about something else?”

5. Be Positive:

It can be hard to stay positive when someone around you is constantly complaining.

But, if you can remain upbeat, it will help offset their negativity.

How To Deal With A Coworker Who Complains (2)

In addition, being positive will make you more enjoyable to be around. As a result, the complainer may start to avoid you.

To stay positive, try to:

– Find the silver lining in every situation.

– Focus on the things you’re grateful for.

– Make it a point to compliment others.

– Avoid gossiping and complaining about yourself

6. Identify The Reason For Complaint:

Most of the time, when a coworker is complaining, there’s a reason behind it.

They may be feeling overwhelmedundervalued, or even threatened.

If you can identify the reason for their complaints, you may be able to help them solve the problem.

You can identify the reason by:

– Listening to their complaints

Asking them questions about their feelings

– Observing their body language

7. Offer Solutions:

Once you know the reason for their complaint, you can offer suggestions on how to solve the problem.

For example, they’re having trouble with a project. You could offer to help them out.

Or they’re dealing with a personal issue. You could provide them with resources or support.

Of course, you don’t have to go out of your way to help someone always complaining.

But, if you’re willing and able, it could make a difference in their lives.

8. Talk To Your Manager:

If a coworker’s complaining affects your work, speaking up is essential.

Talk to your manager about the situation and see if they can help resolve it.

It’s possible that your manager was unaware of the problem. He will appreciate you bringing it to their attention.

Moreover, they may be able to talk to the complainer and get them to stop bothering you.

9. Talk To HR (Extreme Case):

If the situation is getting out of hand, you may need to involve HR.

This is usually a last resort, but it’s essential to know that you have this option.

Talk to HR about the situation and see if they can help.

Involve HR.

They may be able to talk to the complainer. Or they might take other action to resolve the issue.

They can also provide you with support and resources.

So here you have it – 8 tips on how to deal with a coworker who complains.

Is A Complaining Coworker Always Wrong?

No, a complaining coworker is not always wrong. In some cases, their complaints may be valid.

For example, they may be dealing with a difficult situation at work. Or they may have legitimate concerns about a project.

Some companies don’t care for their employees. So, it’s not uncommon for workers to have valid complaints.

If a coworker is always complaining, their complaints might be invalid.

They may be complaining to complain. Or their complaints may be an exaggeration.

In either case, it’s essential to take their complaints with a grain of salt.

You don’t want to let their negativity affect your work or attitude.

At the same time, you don’t want to dismiss their complaints outright. If there’s a legitimate problem, it’s essential to address it.

However, even if their complaints are valid, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all the time.

You can still set boundaries and limits on how much you’re willing to listen to their complaints.

Why Do Coworkers Make Valid Complaints?

There are a few reasons why coworkers make valid complaints:

1. Workplace Disturbance:

In some cases, the workplace itself may be the problem.

For example, the company may have a toxic culture. Or, there may be a lot of political infighting. 

These types of workplaces can be challenging to deal with. And their employees often have valid complaints.

2. Their Job Sucks:

Sometimes, the problem is the job itself. The employee may be overworkedunderpaid, or undervalued.

Always complain

Or, they may hate their job. Or they may be dealing with a demanding boss.

These employees usually have valid complaints. They try to make the best of a bad situation.

3. Their Life Sucks:

Sometimes, the problem is not the job – it’s the employee’s life outside of work.

They may be dealing with personal issues, such as a sick family member or financial problems.

Or, they may be going through a tough time in their personal life, such as divorce.

These employees may have valid complaints. But, their problems are not your responsibility.

If your coworker has a genuine problem, it’s essential to be supportive.

But, you don’t have to listen to their complaints. You can still set boundaries.

Why Do Coworkers Make Invalid Complaints?

Now that we’ve discussed why coworkers make valid complaints let’s talk about why they make invalid complaints.

1. They’re Unhappy:

Some people are just unhappy. No matter what their situation is, they’re never satisfied.

They complain about everything – from the company to their coworkers to their job.

Nothing is ever good enough for them. They’re always complaining about something.

And their complaints are usually invalid. Also, their complaints can be contagious.

It’s essential to limit your exposure to these types of people.

2. They Seek Attention:

Some people complain to seek attention. They want others to feel sorry for them.

Or they want others to listen to them. These people usually make invalid complaints.

Their complaints are often exaggerated or even fabricated.

Portray themselves as victims

They love to portray themselves as victims and get sympathy from others.

3. They’re Jealous:

Some people are jealous of others. They may be jealous of your success or your happiness.

So, they try to bring you down by complaining. And their goal is to make you feel as unhappy as they are.

It’s essential to be aware of these types of people.

4. They Lie To Defame Someone:

Some people will lie and make up complaints to defame someone.

This is usually done out of revenge or jealousy. But, it can also be for other reasons, such as political gain.

If you’re the target of these complaints, it’s essential to avoid them and ignore them.

Because these types of complaints are usually invalid.

5. They’re Manipulative:

Some people use complaining as a way to manipulate others.

For example, they may complain about you to your boss to get you in trouble.

Or, they may make up false complaints to get you fired.

These types of people are manipulative and dangerous. It’s essential to be aware of them.

So now that you know why coworkers make valid and invalid complaints identify them.

How Does Constant Complaining Affect You?

If complainers constantly surround you, it can be challenging. Negativity can be contagious.

And it’s also important to be aware of how their complaining affects you. So, here are a few ways:

1. It Can Lower Your Mood:

Constant complaining can lower your mood. When you’re around someone who’s always complaining, staying positive is challenging.

Their negative attitude can be contagious. And, before you know it, you’re feeling just as unhappy as they are.

2. It Can Lower Your Productivity:

Constant complaining can also lower your productivity. You can’t focus on your work when someone is always complaining.

You may find yourself getting distracted by their negativity. Or, you may start to complain yourself.

Either way, it’s tough to stay productive when complainers surround you.

3. It Can Lower Your Motivation:

It’s tough to stay motivated when you’re constantly surrounded by negativity.

Surrounded by negativity.

If you’re constantly hearing about all the wrong things, staying motivated to do your job is tough.

You find yourself doubting your ability to succeed. And, before you know it, your motivation is gone.

4. It Can Affect Your Health:

Constant complaining can also affect your health. When you’re constantly stressed and anxious, it takes a toll on your body.

You start to feel physically and mentally exhausted. And, over time, this can lead to serious health problems.

5. It Can Create Tension & Stress:

Complaining can also create tension between you and your coworkers. If you’re always listening to someone complain, the staying patient is challenging.

And, eventually, you may start to get annoyed with them. And this can lead to a lot of stress.


If complainers constantly surround you, know how their complaining affects you.

It can lower your mood, productivity, and motivation. And it can also affect your health.

If you start to feel the adverse effects of their complaining, it’s essential to take action. Identify the complainers and avoid them.

And, if you can’t avoid them, try to stay positive and focus on the good.

Because, eventually, their complaining will end. And things will go back to normal. Talk to your boss or HR department if it gets out of hand.

Last Updated on 3 months by Shahzaib Arshad


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