things don’t go well. — Jim Rohn
A story is told of a guide at Blarney Castle in Ireland who was
explaining to some visitors that his job was not always as pleasant as
it seemed. He told them about a group of disgruntled tourists he had
taken to the castle earlier in the week.
“Those people were complaining about everything,” he said. “They
didn’t like the weather, the food, their hotel accommodations, the
prices, everything. Then to top it off, when we arrived at the castle,
we found that the area around Blarney Stone was roped off. Workmen
were making some kind of repairs.” “This is the last straw!” exclaimed
one lady who seemed to be the chief faultfinder in the group. “I’ve
come all this way, and now I can’t even kiss the Blarney Stone.”
“Well, you know,” the guide said, “according to legend, if you kiss
someone who has kissed the stone, it’s the same as kissing the stone
itself.” “And I suppose you’ve kissed the stone,” said the exasperated
lady. “Better than that,” replied the guide, “I’ve sat on it.”
Like the lady in the story, I bet your office has a chief faultfinder.
You know the one (hopefully it’s not you) I am talking about; nothing
is ever right and this person feels that it’s his or her duty to
These people are not only a nuisance but they have a negative impact
on the rest of your office and undercut morale. In a recent article
put out by Seton Doctor Link, some 18 percent of U.S. employees are
‘actively disengaged,” negative, and likely to complain about their
employers, according to a Gallup poll of 31,265 employees. When this
high a percentage are disengaged or complaining it can have serious
consequences. Here are four tips to help you deal with the habitually
The purpose here is to get to the root of the problem as to why this
person feels compelled to complain all the time. It could be
completely legitimate but the employee simply has chosen the wrong
vehicle to express their concerns. On the other hand it could just be
an ill-content employee who is making noise. Regardless, get to the
bottom of it quick before this person does any more damage. You can
turn their poison into praise simply by engagement. But if the poison
remains then keep on reading.
On your hands is a person with passion that needs to be channeled in
the right direction. Instead of just hearing their gripes you can
commission them to bring viable solutions to the table. Don’t just
give the person a forum to vent, convey your expectation that if they
have something to complain about then you expect solutions from them.
This will either cause them to step up and take responsibility to make
things better or at the very least quiet them down. Either way, make
your expectations clear.
No one wants a complainer or whiner in the office. They drain the
positive energy out of the office and their negative energy is toxic.
If you feel that this person’s heart is in the right place (although
their vocal chords may not be) and their contributions outweigh their
complaining, then do what you can to elevate this person to a higher
level. It could be that their complaining ways is a blind spot that
needs to be pointed out. Let them know that being the office critic is
not constructive and that there are better ways to channel their
concerns. If all else fails then you may have no other choice than to
do what’s next.
While this is a last option it is nevertheless an option that you
should not take off the table. You cannot allow the constant critic to
continue on with his or her toxic ways and bring down office morale
Go through these steps with every intention of a positive outcome and
consider what’s best for everyone. It’s been said, “What you tolerate,
you promote,” and so you must decide the type of environment and
office culture you want to promote. If one bad apple is making
everyone miserable then let the bad apple go.
On balance I must stress that there should be room for disagreement
and open discussion in your workplace. That is healthy and necessary
when done properly. But the constant whiner should be engaged,
encouraged, elevated, and if all else fails, ejected.
What do you say?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at