The people you spend your time with definitely have an impact on your personality. Some people you can choose to spend time with (or not), but others you kind of can’t avoid.
If you have a constant complainer who is part of your life, how do you deal with that?
I remember I had a “friend” when I went to school who was always complaining about things, always going on nagging about this or that.
And sometimes it was really good – it felt good to go into that modus and just complain about all the things that were wrong. There’s never a shortage of things worth changing.
But over time I noticed that whenever I was about to meet that guy, I had this kind of know in my stomach. And I kind of felt like I wanted to avoid him.
I wish I had known at that time how make my friend stop complaining.
One of the things that’s typical for chronic complainers is that they actually think other people aren’t aware of their suffering. That’s why they repeat the same things in so many different ways.
So a simple thing you can do to make them stop complaining is to a) listen and b) make them feel understood.
Listen to what the person is saying and then say something along the lines of: “You know what, I understand exactly how you’re feeling about this. I know what it feels like if someone treats you unfairly, and I so hate that.”
Sometimes this simple technique can help them to relief so much of the internal pressure that has built up that they actually complain less.
But if you don’t want to do that (and there definitely are many situations where I don’t want to do that), you can do pretty much the exact opposite:
You can just ignore them and walk away. Of course, puffer it a bit. For example, if they’re complaining to you about something, just pull out a phone and read some message on your smartphone, and exit the situation. Because this way you avoid reinforcing their complaining behavior. People who complain often have a (subconscious) desire for attention – and if their complaining doesn’t get them the attention they expect, they’ll often disengage. They might still do the complaining with others, but you might very well notice that they’ll stop complaining to you. However, you need to be very consistent with this, and you need to be patient too. Because the first couple of times you do this, it might cause the other person to complain even more intense, because they want your attention more.
And while the previous way of making other people stop complaining was aimed at discouraging complaining behavior, you can also amplify the effectiveness by encouraging positive behavior. So every time when the person makes a positive statement, shower them with attention and praise. This way, their subconscious mind picks up that it gets attention more effectively by being positive than by complaining.