Four Ways to Handle a Complainer

Complaining is draining. It drains the life out of those who are forced to listen to it. Complaining also drains the complainer. Incessant complaining can transform the complainer and their audience into helpless victims. Complaining means blaming instead of taking on an equal share of responsibility for the problem. Blaming diminishes personal power, whereas taking personal responsibility for one’s part in the situation can increase it.


Power returns instead of draining into the situation and those involved in it when you commit to finding a solution.
Blaming drains personal power. Taking on a fair share of responsibility for a problem tends to increase it. Image by Benno Poeder

For me, taking responsibility begins by supervising my complaints. When I decide to supervise my complaints, it’s becomes easier for me to take responsibility for them and their impact on how I feel. My complaints have the power to influence how I feel, so I end up feeling negative when I complain. My negative feelings affect my behaviour and performance in a negative way, but if I supervise my complaints, I have the potential to improve the way I experience my life. After all, it’s my life and I am responsible for the way I manage it.

There are four ways that I use to handle complaining. If I find myself complaining about a situation, I use it as a trigger to remind me to respond in one or more of the following ways:

  1. I can change the situation,
  2. I can change my perspective about it,
  3. I can accept the situation as it is, or
  4. I can leave the situation.

I can also use this approach if I find myself at the receiving end of a complainer. When I commit to one of these responses, my power flows back to me instead of draining into the situation and those involved in it.

Finding out how I change the situation, or how I change my perspective about it, or how I accept the situation, or how I leave the situation is the next step, but when I take responsibility for the problem, and I choose one of the four options to manage it, then my energy levels tend to go up. It gives me the boost I need to work out how to do what I need to do.

Handling complaints begins when I decide to supervise them. This puts me in a position of personal power that eases me into taking responsibility for my role in the problem. It frees me up to choose one of four ways to manage the situation. Identifying how I will do that may be a challenge, but by taking responsibility and pursuing one option, I have regained my energy. Then how I do what I have chosen to do is often revealed to me.