Seven Great Ways to Deal With Whiners on Your Team

7 ways to deal with whiners Virtually every office, faculty, or athletic group has at least one whiner, and the rest of the group find themselves looking for ways to deal with whiners.

Whiners are just regular people with an irrational response to reality.

The simple truth is that while most successful people invest their time in solving problems and taking action, whiners insist on complaining and wallowing in the mud that they find themselves in – playing the role of victim instead of victor.

One of the most important equations you will ever memorize is this one, compliments of Mark Victor Hansen, who is co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books..

Far more important than any equation from your high school algebra or geometry class, Mark shares that E + R = O.

Events plus response equals outcome..

Successful and happy people recognize that while they cannot control all events that impact them, they CAN control their response – and their response is what determines the outcome of the event, emotionally or otherwise.

For those of us who have to perform and deal with whiners in the workplace, there are a few ways to respond more productively to their negative gossip.

Here is a list of seven ways to deal with the whiners on your team or in your life:

  1. Realize that when they spew out venom, that is THEIR stuff, and doesn’t need to be your stuff.  Some people want to be miserable!
  1. Ask that they simply change their complaint to a request!  (Don’t just present a problem, suggest they offer a solution…)
  1. Listen attentively – then paraphrase the complaint back to them to let them feel that their perspective has been heard.
  1. Go deeper and find out if what they are whining about is the REAL problem, or if it is truly just masking something else.
  1. Imagine that you are being tested!  If their comments don’t “push your buttons,” YOU PASS!  If they do “push your buttons,” you still have a bit of learning and growing to do yourself…
  1. Surprise them by smiling warmly and remaining perfectly polite as you reply that “Well, not everyone chooses to see it that way.”
  1. Buy a few aspirin and a relaxing or motivational CD, take a deep breath, and just be grateful that you are not that person!      


This is admittedly not an exhaustive list, and you could likely be far more creative in coming up with other alternatives – but it is a great short list to refer to when you catch yourself in the break room or locker room with someone that hasn’t yet reached the point in their life where they claim responsibility for their circumstances.

Do your best to encourage their growth with ideas such as #2 or #6 above, and remember that if all else fails, you can still depend on #7 to get your blood pressure back to normal.

If your organization has more than one or two of these people, though, your workplace environment may be in need of some team motivation to shake up the status quo.  A full or half day of Atlanta teambuilding activities will share a few powerful lessons that will improve your team’s communication skills, focus, and cohesiveness.

Remember – how you choose to respond to repeated events of whining will ultimately determine your team outcomes!

If you liked this article, you will want to request free access to Sean’s Teamwork Toolbox – over 50 useful handouts and activities for smart team leaders!