{Blah, Blah, Blah} Are You a Constant Complainer?

This is the 2nd post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.

There is nothing more annoying than a constant complainer.

A friend of mine is planning a wedding. She picked her color scheme and told the bridesmaids that they could choose whatever dress they’d like in the specific shade. One of the bridesmaids whined (and whined and whined and whined) about how the dress she wanted wasn’t available in that color. It began as an act of passive aggression and progressed to full-on complaining.

The fact is, sometimes things don’t go your way. In a wedding, the bride is the boss. It doesn’t matter if the dress you loved was recently featured on an episode of Gossip Girl. It’s not your call. Pick a new dress and move on.

This is especially important at work. You might have to do things that you think are pointless, but moping about it does not mean you will be excused. Some things are out of your control. Accepting that is the only way you can really work through it.

There is an alternative. If you have a genuine reason to dislike one of your work tasks, try to think of how you can improve it. For example, complaining to your boss, your coworkers and your Starbucks barista about how much you hate writing a report is not going to accomplish anything but annoying innocent people. Being proactive is always a better option than being a continual grumbler.

Create a plan that highlights how the report could be improved and pitch the plan to your boss. Focus on the specifics of what does and doesn’t work and explain what changes could be made to make it more efficient. Even if your boss doesn’t accept your proposal, at least you’ll have gotten your grievances out in a professional manner.

Remember, even your boss has a boss. Everyone has their own job requirements to be accountable for. The office does not revolve around you. There might be work that you don’t enjoy or processes that you find antiquated. If you can’t figure out a way to improve upon such things, your only option is to suck it up.

Moaning about your work all of the time is unprofessional. It will be a lot more difficult for you to move up the corporate ladder if you are always being negative. It will also be a lot harder for you to get things accomplished. Take the energy that you would use for criticism and focus it on your work. Your time is better spent working towards your goals than ripping apart your obligations.

In work and in weddings, sometimes you have to smile through the frustrations. Don’t be bitter, make things better.

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the author: Erin Palmer works with Villanova University on programs such as their masters in human resources online and HR certification programs. She happily writes for a living and enjoys mentioning that fact to people who think that Writing and English majors will never find a job. She loves to meet new people, so reach out to her on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.

About the Author

Erin Palmer


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Darlamae Shannon

Erin: I love your “don’t be bitter, make things better” conclusion. Such an eloquently simplistic opportunity we can all embrace. I’m reminded of my favorite Wayne Dyer quote concerning moaners and groaners whereby I’ve had to emotionally disengage by turning the other proverbial cheek myself and that quote is: “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” Indeed, disengage enabling whiners and naysayers and instead do something positive to improve the situation. Hey, a little Baileys in your afternoon espresso goes a long way. But I digress.

Erin Palmer

Don’t feel bad, Louise. I have to control my sarcasm as well. Instead of directing it towards my workload, I save it up for the weekends. By Friday afternoon, my speech is probably 89% sarcastic!

“Sure, Mom. The Kardashians is a GREAT show. I’d LOVE to hear you recap the marathon that you watched. That won’t be excruciating at all!” 🙂

Louise Bowers

So true. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of highlighting all of the negatives. I try not to be sarcastic in the workplace…but people just leave themselves so open to it. Oops there I go again!


Great post! I agree that the bride is ALWAYS the boss when it comes to the wedding! 🙂

Erin Palmer

Thanks, ladies! I am one of seven kids, so I think I was past my whining tolerance level since middle school. “Suck it up” was practically a family motto! There is always a better way to deal with things.

Andrea Ballard

Love this post! Any post with groaning and moaning as tags has got to be good! I love your ideas to get your grievances out in a professional manner. It’s so much more productive and empowering for your co-workers, too.


Yes! Nothing is worse than working with a constant complainer. Your focus on making the situation better is dead on.

Dolphin Barongo

I love this article really do, wish i could put the words to the ACTION for one who does this.But i take it from professional to personal; development too.


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