People love to complain. Oh, they love to complain. The schools are this, their significant other is that, their job is the other thing. We all do it. Some people do it a lot more than others, though and this can be annoying to the people around you. Worse, it can make them stop listening or even stop caring, especially if they feel that you are not listening to them. Are you a chronic complainer?
We all have times that we just need to vent. It’s normal, natural and healthy to blow off steam but if you complain constantly or if people feel that you are always asking them for advice but not really listening to it, this can alienate them.
We all have that one friend that calls us and launches into a litany of complaints almost before we even say “hello.” The entire phone call is spent listing, chronicling and dissecting everything that is going wrong in this person’s life. They ask for advice but they don’t really listen to it. They ask about you but don’t let you answer. Every single phone call or conversation is the same. You want to be a good friend, but this person never listens to you and they don’t seem to really want to fix the problem. They just want to complain. Every solution you offer is shot down, picked apart and dismissed.
Think about you feel when you get off of the phone with this person. Drained, right? They’ve just sucked all of your energy out but given you nothing in return. What’s worse than being friends with one of those people?
Being one of those people yourself. That’s worse.
Think really hard and honestly about how you interact with others. Do you talk a lot about things that are going wrong in your life? Maybe too much about these things? Do you rehash the same problem over and over again? Do you ask for advice that you have no intention of actually following, just to see if people agree with you? Do you feel angry or distressed when the conversation turns away from you or your problems, no matter what the reason is? Do other people tell you that you complain too much, or that you don’t seem to want to do anything about your problems?
Maybe it’s true.
There is an old saying: “If three people say you are a horse, go get fitted for a saddle.” It means if more than one person says the same thing about you, you might want to really think about if they have a valid reason to say it. We should of course not be overly-concerned with what other people say about us but if more than one person is telling you that you behave a certain way, it is worth examining. We cannot grow as people until we learn to accept our faults. Faults mean nothing more than we – like everybody else – have shortcomings. Faults are also not permanent. They can be fixed.
So before you start blowing off steam, ask yourself a few things:
- How many times have you told this same person this same problem or one just like it?
- Do you really want help with the problem? If not, don’t ask for advice.
- Have you asked the other person about their life and actually listened to their answer? Conversation is give and take.
- Are you presenting a real problem that needs a solution or just a list of complaints?
Everyone is entitled to vent. Keeping things bottled up inside causes stress, anxiety, depression and physical health problems. However, when people offer solutions to the same problem over and over again, and get 100 excuses why you can’t really implement any of the solutions, the people listening will start to think that you don’t really want to fix the problem at all. If you don’t really want to fix it, that must mean it isn’t that bad of a problem. They will eventually stop listening when this is the case. Some people might even start to feel used, especially if you don’t ever listen to their problems. Relationships are give and take, not take and take without giving anything back and being a chronic complainer can damage your relationships with the people you care about.
If you are concerned that you might be a chronic complainer, it may be time to re-evaluate how you handle stress and problems in your life.