My Co-Workers Won’t Stop Whining

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Don’t tell me to just get a new job. I live in a small town, I can’t move because my parents are sick, and there is no other company I can work at. The work I do is fine, but I work with 3 of the most annoying women on the planet. You could say, “It’s a nice day, today, isn’t it?” and one will complain that the nice weather brings out the animals, so there’s lots of roadkill. Another will complain that it’s unfair that the weather is nice and she has to be in an office all day but her jerk of a boyfriend gets to be outside because he’s in construction. The third will say how low pressure/high pressure/rain/drought/whatever exacerbates her arthritis.

The day then goes down hill from there. How can I survive these women?

Read my not so evil answer, and then contribute a good evil one of your own, either here or over at BNET.

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9 thoughts on “My Co-Workers Won’t Stop Whining

  1. Oh Lord. People like that make me nuts. Fortunately, I don't have to spend a lot of time with my husband's parents, or else I would try EHRL's techniques. My usual strategy for dealing with whiners is to turn up my mp3 player and to take vicodin.

    Another recommendation is to blog about them. Anonymously. Won't stop them from whining, but at least you can turn it into something positive: it's material.

    I hope EHRL's technique works, though. That sounds like a really rough situation.

  2. You really do have my sympathy. I know I sound flip, but sometimes people are just negative and nasty and want to drag everyone down with them. I don't know that you can change their behavior or outlook. If it's possible, I really would suggest listening to music or something while you work just to shut them out. I had a co-worker who did that.

    Hmmm. Maybe he was trying to shut me out. No. It's been five years since we were at that company and we're still friends. But he was shutting someone out.

  3. Bring in the DVD of Pollyanna and play it on continuous repeat until they get the message. Heh.

    (No, really, I love that movie. I desperately want to go to a bazaar like that and eat watermelon and corn on the cob and foot-long slices of 4-layer cakes and win porcelain dolls at the fishing pond and dance to the cute old lady drummer.)

  4. Once at a job I hated I used to whine too much (I confess, I was horrible) and one co-worker would always say "Nobody likes a Negative Nelly" anytime I started to get nasty. And eventually it stopped me. It was annoying as hell but it was the truth and it reminded me that nobody wants to be around all of that negativity. Attacking the negativity with joking always works–especially if you jokingly point out that the person is being a negative ass.

  5. Just close your ears and just say yes you are right to her. 🙂

  6. OP- You need to really- I mean it- REALLY focus on getting some more good stuff into your life.

    Read books and magazines that make you feel good, listen to your favourite music, seek out people who warm your heart, spend some time on a hobby that you enjoy.

    As a speaker at our church once said- 'You may not be able to remove the bad in your life, but you can increase the good.'

    This will help you to get that sincerity in your voice when you counter your co-workers' negativity with EHRL's and everyone else's advice.

    Just think of the strangers posting on this site who are sympathizing with you, offering you help and cheering you on. Don't you feel stronger already?!

    Lois Gory

  7. I would bring it to their attention, very politely of course. Sometimes people are so caught up in the negativity of their life that they don't realize they are projecting or transferring their emotions. If you bring it to their attention, in a non-threatening way, you may be surprised by the action.

    Sorry for the psycho-babble, I swear I was not a psych major, but as an HR professional I've had a lot of luck with just pointing out behaviors to employees. We all have habits we're not even aware of, especially when we're stressed or unhappy.

    Another thing is to learn what their triggers are and not bring the subject up. I keep asking my 90 year grandmother how she is doing and get a long list of ailments. Because it is habitual to say hey, how's it going, I keep falling into the trap. But if instead I say hey, I'm calling because…I get off the phone a lot faster and she doesn't bring up medical issues unless she's just been to the doctor. It's not the perfect solution, but does make my life easier.

  8. Wow, this post looks like it could have been written by me! I swear that I understand exactly what you mean, and I completely sympathize. As I'm typing, I'm hearing one of my night-shift co-workers calling someone "stupid" (as usual). On most nights, there are 3 other women here that I like to call "The Complaint Department". Their sessions have gotten so bad that they actually move their chairs to the middle of the office and have a round-robin of complaining one-ups. All that's missing is a campfire and some s'mores.

    Fortunately for me, I'm starting a new job in a few, so it's just a bit more bearable. Previously, I'd keep my mouth shut and secretly simmer, but the last complaint I entertained was so amazingly absurd, that I felt compelled to say something. One of the ladies was annoyed that, on her days off, she had to fly down to Florida with her family so they could sail their yacht back up North.

    'Scuse me? You're complaining about a flight and a yacht? Lady, I could show you some problems that us normal people have…

    Anyway, I just looked at her (without smiling) and said, "Gee, I can't imagine how taxing sailing with your family must be. I hope you come through the ordeal okay."

    After that, the level of complaints that I heard lowered drastically. Maybe they cut back, or just weren't as vocal about it. Either way, it made for a more pleasant work environment.

    Hang in there, and I hope you find a solution soon.

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