How to Stop a Complainer

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Oh no…she was back…and she was bringing more complaints. Unfortunately, I didn’t have 30 minutes to hear “Diane” vent and describe every slight she suffered that week. My exploding at her, “Sorry, I just don’t have time to fix YOUR problems today,” certainly did not improve our work relationship.

Ever have people who think that you want to listen to all of their moans and groans? Know people who won’t follow your advice no matter what you say or won’t let you forget if your advice didn’t work?

Here are some tips for stopping unproductive conversations and getting the most out of any conversation.

How to Communicate with Complainers and “Venters”
Some seem to have bad days every day and want to tell everyone about it. To keep complainers from wasting your time, try the following phrases:

  • “Wow. What are you going to do about that?”

  • “Sounds like you have some decisions to make.”

  • “I am so glad that is not my problem.”

If constant complainers are asked to solve their own problems, hopefully, they will stop trying to vent on you.


How to Control a Conversation
We are all busy and many times don’t have time for small talk, especially excessive complaining. Use these phrases to generate meaningful dialogue faster:

  • “Let’s get straight to the point.”

  • “The reason I want to talk with you is…”

  • “I don’t want to waste your time.”

  • “Now that we’ve had a chance to catch up…”

  • “Let’s start with the highlights.”


How to End a Conversation
The most productive conversations are ones that deliver the message, accomplish the purpose and end on time. There are polite ways to signal a conversation is over. You can say:

  • “I will need to leave in just a minute.”

  • “I’ve got a call (or meeting) to make. Thanks for your time.”

  • “I didn’t realize it was so late.”

  • “I know we both have a lot of work to do. I’ll let you go.” No one wants to admit that he or she doesn’t have work to do.

You are not being rude by ending a conversation that is completed. Protect your time and theirs.

Now, let’s protect YOUR time. I know we both have a lot of work to do…so I’ll let you go.

Journey On!