Being a friend, co-worker, manager, and coach, I have heard my share of complaints. Everything from "I have a terrible boss" to "I never have any money" to "She gets on my last nerve". As I listened to more and more people sing the blues, I realized that there was a pattern with some people. They weren't venting, they were chronic complainers.
Everyone has a bad day or a frustrating moment. When that happens, you sometimes need a listening ear to get it off your chest. That's called venting. However, if you have become like a broken record, singing the same sad song over and over and over and over and over again, you've now become a chronic complainer and are probably annoying everyone you force to listen to your problems.
Here's my definition of a ventor:
You are a ventor when "getting it off your chest" is all you need to re-energize yourself, put the situation behind you, or go back into a situation with a better attitude. A ventor is just looking for a quick break to regroup. But once they take that quick break, they are able to move on.
Now, here's my definition of a chronic complainer:
A chronic complainer is not so lucky. Your objective is to wallow in your misery - dragging other people with you! How often do we need to hear how unhappy you are with your job? How many times do we have to hear about your terrible boss? How many times do you have to tell us that you're broke? How many times do we want to hear that your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse has plucked your last nerve?
You spend your time reminding us of all the things in life you have to put up with. The burdens you have to bear. The idiots that you have to work with. The annoying people in your family. And of course, none of the problems you have are your fault. Nooooooo, the blame belongs with everyone else.
So the question you have to ask yourself is: Am I just venting or am I a chronic complainer?
To find your answer, take this short quiz:
1. Can people tell YOU your problems word for word?
2. Have people stopped offering advice and just listen, nod and agree?
3. Do you have a pattern of having the same conversations about your problems -sometimes with people you barely know?
4. Do you usually see the negative side of every situation?
5. Can you take any conversation and turn it into a discussion about your problems?
6. Do people find a polite (or not so polite) way to leave the room when you arrive?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions - guess what? You're a chronic complainer. Now, please know that I have found that some chronic complainers are in complete denial. So just to be sure, have some of your friends and coworkers take the quiz FOR you. Do their answers match up with yours?
If you failed the quiz, how can you break the complaint cycle? Easy. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
- Find a new job.
- Talk with your boss about how you can improve your working relationship.
- Stop spending money you don't have.
- Break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Get professional help.
- Just shut up! (My favorite solution)
The people who have to listen to you moan and groan day in and day out really don't care what you do. They just want you to deal with it! And when you do - even if it's just a small step - all of us that have been forced to listen to you will rejoice!