We all complain about people and situations every now and then. I do it, you do it, and it’s just a way to vent our frustrations and process what we feel. It’s a very natural part of being human.
But constant complaining isn’t. There’s a difference between the two, and it’s huge.
Constant complainers bring a world of negativity with them wherever they go. And it can get so bad that they can bring everyone’s mood down.
What exactly makes them that way?
Today, let’s take a closer look – here are 8 frustrating personality traits of people who constantly complain that can drive even the holiest among us crazy.
With a constant complainer, the first thing you’ll notice is a pessimistic attitude. They just can’t see the good in anything.
“I can’t get all of this done within the week! This room is too cold/hot/small, etc.”
Everything is either too much or not enough!
Even when things are going their way, they’d zero in on what’s wrong about it.
It’s exhausting, really. It’s the kind of energy no one wants to absorb.
If you have to deal with someone like this, it might help to think that they aren’t conscious of it. According to Psychology Today:
“Some people are genetically predisposed to be more negative than others. However, pessimism more often develops as a result of external circumstances, such as a bad breakup, job loss, injury, illness, or other trauma.”
2) Black-and-white thinking
Constant complainers are also prone to black-and-white thinking. A person or situation is either good or bad, right or wrong. The glass is either full or empty (and in their case, it’s almost always empty).
And that’s why it’s frustrating to deal with them. Because the world isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of nuance and gray areas to consider.
An all-or-nothing mindset limits them from understanding the world as it really is. And in effect, it limits them from handling challenges with grace.
On top of that, it stops them from seeing potential for change. In a chronic complainer’s mind, if something’s bad, it’s going to stay bad. There’s an element of helplessness in that kind of thinking.
Which also explains why they tend to have a…
3) Victim mentality
I have a friend who’s the perfect example of this. Nothing ever good happens to her. Life is always unfair. There’s nothing she can do to change it.
Or so she thinks. And in her mind, all she can do is rail against it.
The funny thing is, when I suggest a solution, she shoots it down. It got to a point where I realized she wasn’t really interested in fixing the problem because she had so internalized the idea that she was a victim.
This brings me to my next point…
4) Lack of problem-solving skills
Sometimes, chronic complainers complain because they don’t know what else to do. Sometimes, it comes down to a lack of problem-solving skills.
I do get that way sometimes. I’ve noticed that the times I complain are the times when I’m stumped on how to fix an issue.
But for people who constantly complain, that helplessness is a permanent state. They don’t know what to do, and so they’ll just do the next, easiest thing in the world – complain.
5) Resistance to change
This goes back to that mindset of “the world is against me”. And to that tendency to think in black and white.
The thought process goes somewhat like this: “Things have never gone my way. So why would I believe that anything can change? That things would be different this time?”
Remember, they’re “victims” of an unfair world. So, they see little point in exploring new possibilities.
Their self-talk is defeatist and negative. It focuses on the many ways things can go wrong, rather than the many ways they can go right.
It’s frustrating because how can you help someone who thinks that way, right? Changing one’s mindset is an inside job – we can’t do it for them.
6) Attention-seeking tendencies
Obviously, someone who constantly complains tends to love drama. Or at the very least, attention.
Complaining is actually a way for us to seek validation for how annoying or unfair our situation is. We want someone to agree with us and create an emotional connection with us.
Think about it – haven’t you ever bonded with a co-worker by complaining about the boss?
And again, that’s natural. Like I said earlier, complaining is a way for us to process our emotions.
But do it too often, and it becomes an obvious mission for attention. At some point, it gets to be too much and the complaining starts to push people away.
7) Poor communication skills
What else does constant complaining point to? Poor communication skills.
People who complain a lot often struggle with sharing their thoughts and feelings in a clear and constructive way.
Instead of saying exactly what’s wrong and how they’d like to fix it, they focus on what’s bad without offering solutions.
For instance, the friend I mentioned earlier would often complain about her job. She’d talk about the long hours and the low salary, but fail to see what she can do to fix that.
When I suggested talking to her boss about it, she brushed it away. There’s no use, she said, it’s not going to work.
And so the complaints went on.
The thing is, complaining isn’t constructive. It’s purely emotional. And what’s more, it’s not going to solve anything if you don’t balance it with logic and address the right people about it.
In the end, their complaints might just come across as noise rather than genuine requests for change or help.
8) Lack of gratitude
Finally – and this probably comes as no surprise – people who constantly complain are severely lacking in the gratitude department.
They mainly see what’s wrong, which makes it tough for them to notice what’s right.
This means they miss out on feeling happy about the little things in life. Without gratitude, everything looks negative to them.
Unfortunately, this makes their world seem smaller and sadder. Which then keeps them stuck in a loop of complaints. It really is a vicious cycle and kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How to deal with a constant complainer
I know it’s frustrating to be around someone who complains about every single thing in their lives. But the reality is, there’ll always be one or two chronic complainers we can’t run away from.
For me, I’ve found that the best way to handle them (when you can’t avoid them) is to extend them a little grace.
I acknowledge what they’re saying. Not necessarily agreeing, but just acknowledging them with words like, “I see…” or “Interesting…”
Sometimes, I redirect their attention by pointing out the good things, but generally, I don’t really set out to convince them. I understand that I can’t change them; all I can do is manage the situation.
If it’s someone who’s really close to me, though, I do sit down and point it out to them gently. But again, I manage my expectations – I can support them, but I can’t change them.
If all else fails, then feel free to detach and walk away, or at least take a breather. After all, you’ve got to protect your own energy. You don’t want to get sucked into all that negativity and become a constant complainer yourself!
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