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Dealing with Whiners, Complainers, and Blamers

Types of Negative People

It’s important to remember that everyone — even you — can be negative from time to time. But when negative behaviors begin to cause harm to others or derail productivity, it’s time to take action.

Negativity can have a detrimental effect on individuals, teams, and organizations. It reduces productivity damages relationships affects morale

Difficult people often have specific behavioral traits that make them identifiable and, in some ways, predictable. By recognizing and categorizing negative behavior, you can take steps to deal with it. Three very common behavior types express negativity in the workplace: whiners, complainers, and blamers.

Recognizing whiners

The first common type of negative behavior is whining. Whiners are inwardly focused. They want things to be different, but they don’t really know how it should happen. They feel unjustly burdened by the collective expectations of bosses and coworkers. But rather than focus on resolving specific problems, whiners search for general affirmation of their status as victims. They want sympathy and attention, rather than solutions.

Whining is one of the least effective forms of protest, yet it’s one of the most common forms of expression in the workplace. Most people whine once in a while. Whining can relieve stress or help you blow off a little steam. But continual whining irritates and annoys coworkers. They may ostracize the whiner, or worse, get caught up in competing with the whiner for attention.

You can recognize whiners from the way they express their negativity in the workplace. Whiners use generalized, self- centered words like I, always, never, everyone, me, or nobody. Their message is one of self-pity — life is unfair, nobody listens, they’re being treated poorly, and nobody appreciates what they do. They also make use of superlatives, absolutes, and emphasizers — phrases like “the worst,” “most awful,” “absolutely cannot,” or “so bad.”

Recognizing complainers

The second common type of negative behavior is complaining. Complainers differ from whiners in that they’re most often focused on specific issues or people. Complainers don’t like to compromise. They often have a strong sense for how they think things should be, and any deviation from that produces complaints.

Complainers are easy to recognize because of the way they express negativity in the workplace. They’re usually the first to gripe about what’s wrong and declare why things won’t work. They put as much effort into finding fault as they do in dealing with issues. They love the word “but,” as in “It’s fine, but…” Complainers often use phrases like “do it my way”, “it would be better”, “if only “, “we’ve been through this”, “I know what’s wrong”, or “you’re wrong.”

One reason why complainers complain could be because they may have been rewarded for the behavior in the past and now view themselves as analysts rather than innovators. They may be genuinely trying to help but lack the communication skills to make things happen. Some have a particular image of the way things should be and a high level of frustration with any deviation. But most often, complainers feel powerless to effect change, so they point out issues in the hope someone else will take charge of fixing them.