How to Refocus a Complainer

I’m embarrassed to say that heading over to the launch for my book Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers, I wasn’t pleasant. In fact, I was a big whiner – but I had “good” reasons. First, there was the late start because I forgot to load boxes into my car. Then, there was traffic. I was also concerned about everyone having a great time. Oh, and I had on a new outfit that I wasn’t sure about. As I was venting on the phone to one of my friends, she started laughing and said, “Didn’t you write a book about complaining?” BUSTED!

I didn’t have to worry. My dear friends, colleagues and family attended an amazing event created by the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau. The new Irving Convention Center was spectacular and beautifully decorated with two open bars, carving stations, gourmet pizzas AND cupcakes.  Please check it out in this Facebook photo album.

Have you had one of those days where you’re stressing and griping about things that are out of your control?  We all do. Many times venting gives valuable insight into areas that need improvement.

When you find yourself on the receiving end of the complaining, use these tips to encourage constructive and positive feedback:

  • Listen to the Complainer without judgment.

  • Ask questions to understand.

  • Don’t try to explain your point of view (resist that urge).

  • Use phrases such as, “I wish we could have met under different circumstances” or “Taking that into consideration I can see why you feel this way.”

  • Highlight mutual interests by saying, “It sounds like this isn’t working. Neither of us wants that.”

  • Show empathy but use caution with the “yes” and “you’re right” responses. The Complainer may not be correct.

  • Don’t dwell on the past. Spend 90% of the conversation focusing on the future. Say, “Let’s build on what’s been done right and get this issue resolved.”

  • If you are in the wrong ask, “What can we do to make this right?” or “What do you think is fair?”

  • Know when it’s time to get help from a superior.  If you are the leader then lead with calm and reassurance.  Check out what I had to say about this last week in Investor’s Business Daily.

Often criticism can create beneficial results, if you take the time to listen for constructive feedback. If you are encountering difficult employees at work, please read this article I wrote for

While venting is normal, turning it into a habit or way of life isn’t.

Be proactive when communicating to increase your chance of solving your problem. And to improve your results, I suggest surrounding yourself with good friends and eating cupcakes with sprinkles!

Journey On and No Complaints!

P.S.The book launch, especially the virtual one, was a success thanks to you! If you haven’t bought the book for yourself (or one for everyone you know) here’s the link to buy the book.