Dealing with Whiners


As HR practitioner, we come across people who are complainers and energy drainers. Some of them have be producing good work but they make incompatible bosses, peers and subordinates because those that work with them have to suffer the pains of their complaints.

Book Tips

Here are work tips from the book “Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers: How to Negotiate Work Drama and Get More Work Done” written by Linda Byars Swindling; published by John Wiley & Sons (ISBN 978-1-118-49296-3)


Stop Complainers

There are 5 types of complainers. The author pointed out: “Each of the 5 types has a specific way of complaining including tone, conversation, style, words, and behavior. The 5 types of complainers want different outcomes, empathy, stability, attention, results, and control. Here, we talk about the whiner.


They are also known as martyrs, spoiled brats, dark clouds, pouters, soap opera actors, weeds and exploders.

They want to vent, be comforted and get someone to solve the problem for them. When feel overwhelmed and ignored they will give an outburst.

They complain by

  • Showing disapproval (Complain that life is unfair)
  • Venting (Always upset and throw temper tantrums)
  • Withdrawing (Play the victim; bring only problems, not solutions)

Strategy: Remind Whiners that people want to connect more with problem solvers, not just problem suppliers.

Solution: The best way to negotiate is to:

  • Listen
  • Empathize
  • Ask “What are you going to do?”

Whiners know that complaining works in getting what they want and sometimes bonds them to powerful people who can protect them.

To turn management around and get their support, you need to document and show how the whiner’s inaction is hurting other people’ performance within the team; is wasting time; is offloading work to other people; and has not made a contribution.

Linda Swindling on How to Stop a Whiner

Concluding Remarks

The author listed 10 business reasons to stop complainers:

  • The cost
  • Negative effect and loss of good employees
  • Legal ramifications
  • Environmental infection
  • Signal of problem or mental illness
  • Your sanity
  • Business reputation
  • Complainer’s potential
  • Counterproductive strategy
  • The right thing to do