Complaining Coworkers - How Do I Tune Them Out?

I can't always throw ear buds in to drown out the complainers or verbal diarrhea spewed around my work station.


What techniques do you use to combat negative or non-sense workplace chatter?

Comments

  • Great questions! I do my best to change the narrative, but in my position as a manager thats a little easier than in most situations.


     


    One of my favorites is simply to send something positive to a friend via text. It may be someone I haven't talked to in a while and I will just send them something positive.


     


    That and daydreaming about something completely unrelating are my go to's....


  • I'm trying to add to the conversation. If you can't beat them, and don't want to join them, distract them.
  • one tool that i've used a lot lately for things like this and just about anything that seems irritating or annoying or whatever that i don't really have any control over....is just reminding myself of the relative scale of this sort of bullshit and how pampered we all are all the time, and i think to myself, damn, the worst of my worries is ____ (insert trivial bullshit), damn i am lucky! some people have no access to food or water, some people are regular victims of violence, some people are at the end of their lives experiencing the worst pain possible, and here most of us are being irritated by stupid conversation, or nitpicky about food, or annoyed when our sleep isn't perfect, etc. Not that we need to feel bad about how pampered we are or that the little things that bother us are entirely meaningless and we shouldn't strive to make our lives more awesome, but i think sometimes we let these little things irritate us and raise our anxiety at a level that isn't connected with the bigger picture of reality, we're so insulated and safe that we're like a fish in water and don't have any appreciation for it. 


     


    Or...just do weird shit and steer them into your vortex. Wear toe shoes, eat sardines for lunch, turn down junk food, wear orange glasses at night, then just let the questions come! 




  • I find what works is telling them to shut the fuck up and suggest maybe they go kill themselves if it's that bad, nothing I can't stand more than relentless whining without a plan of action to fix the issue.  Seriously, ask them straight out "do you think I have any interest in hearing your whining and complaining?" "deal with your shit internally"




     


     


    Jason I love your post! While at the same time I am glad I am not your my co-worker :-)  I also find it helpful to read a real downer book sometimes. Usually I do positive stuff but to recalibrate my system you can read something horrible like this 


     


    All Quiet on the Western Front


    http://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Western-Front-Erich-Remarque/dp/0449213943


     


    Or White Fang 


    http://www.amazon.com/White-Fang-Jack-London/dp/1505313104/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449596566&sr=1-1&keywords=white+fang+by+jack+london


     


    It all seems so trivial after reading books like that! Then I go tell myself to quit whining ...................about my whining co-workers (seriously my issue too) and go drink my bulletproof coffee by my climate controlled window seat cubicle :-)

  • WalterWalter ✭✭✭

    I ignore, change the subject and/or think of more pleasant subjects.


  • sparefilmssparefilms Post-human Construct ✭✭✭

    Logic.


     


    If I am in a situation that requires more conversation than a non-committal noise or grunt, then I ask them simple, poignant questions about the thing they have on their angst. For example, most workplace gripes I have come across have this false sense of the Company actively plotting to worsen the lives of the Employees. When you point out that the Company really has no idea who the Employee is, and cares about their bottom line far more than screwing with the Employee, most workplace gripes fall apart. Of course this is incredibly simplified, but it illustrates the point.


     


    This technique works to deflate conspiracy theories and political arguments as well. Most people know how to pontificate but have no idea how to answer questions that fall outside their script or rhetoric!


     


    Due to my tendency to indulge in a spot of masochistic intellectual hedonism, I enjoy tackling the conspiracy theories and fringe political ideologies far more than the mundane workplace gripes. It helps that those who subscribe to conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, radical politics and woo woo seem to also suffer from the Dunning-Kruger Effect and also severe inability to Google. Since they love to proselytize as though they are experts without actually having any background knowledge of the topics, I consider it an intellectually righteous kill. It is also important to prevent the uninformed from being bombarded with such nonsense, as some people might make life decisions based on that erroneous information if they do not know better. This could lead to disaster for the uninformed, and if I can prevent that by conversation then I will.


     


    Hopefully that helps, use the opportunity to destroy some woo and enlighten some whiny bitches!



  • reminding myself of the relative scale of this sort of bullshit and how pampered we all are all the time...


    Or...just do weird shit and steer them into your vortex




    Lol. Truth. I'll try and use the global perspective. I'm pretty non-confrontational so I won't be dropping the mic on anyone.


    It's like Chinese water torture. Just a steady drip of complaints and subversion. Otherwise yea.. Shit is pretty great ovah heeyah.
  • drumminangoleirodrumminangoleiro ✭✭✭
    edited December 2015

    yeah, i work with developmentally disabled people, and sometimes the coworkers seem even less mentally/emotionally competent than the clients. they can say some annoying ridiculous shit (like, sarah palin-supporter level ridiculous), but just think about this, you only have to hear them while you're at work, and they have to actually BE them ALL THE TIME. 


  • RekaReka ✭✭✭
    edited December 2015

    I just treat whatever they are saying as opinions and their own interpretations of things. Thoughts and feelings are just that. And secretly I feel lucky that I have improved my own interpretations to not be as negative. Some people are just that, they don't want to change it, and while it's quite sad for them, it sometimes amuses me that they can give in into this downward spiral of negative interpretations.


    It doesn't get easier... It's you who gets better.

     

    Is your social worker in that horse?

     

    Success has a price, not a secret.

  • GhastlyPrezGhastlyPrez Ghastly Prezence

    I can't always throw ear buds in to drown out the complainers or verbal diarrhea spewed around my work station.

    What techniques do you use to combat negative or non-sense workplace chatter?




    I managed to get used to this by going out and working at places that were distraction filled (busy coffee shops, areas with internet and high traffic, etc) and found that so far the only thing that I cannot work around is babies... (they love messing with computers and phones for whatever reason).


    Try going and working, or doing something work related at a place like this. Eventually you won't care about what the guys two tables over are discussing, and you'll be able to filter out most if not all noises.


    Try finding something to focus your attention on, even if it is only a small thing (like say the time your computer displays), when ever you start becoming thrown off.


    Negative energies in the office or workplace suck, because you tend to become effected by it if the coworker works in close proximity or joint tasks with you. Try to shift their comments towards work or something not as negative. Generally I have a hard time dealing with other people's negativity so I completely just shut them out, and shift my focus or attention to something other than them. Not so much ignoring or silent treatment, but it's often been called that. I'm really blunt about it too, if there's negativity just lingering by on some watercooler-talk level I'll pointedly ask them to move around or change the subject (more often than not I ask them to take their negativity elsewhere).
  • "Show me your friends, I'll show you your future." Dan Pena


    -> this message is repeated by pretty much every well known performance coach in some format...


     


    Personally I would leave... get a new job where you are surrounded with people who are more positive.You'll be happier, think more positively and be more productive.


     


    Your environment is your choice - and shouldn't be underestimated in its subtle impacts on you.


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  • "Show me your friends, I'll show you your future." Dan Pena

    Personally I would leave... get a new job where you are surrounded with people who are more positive.You'll be happier, think more positively and be more productive.


    Your environment is your choice - and shouldn't be underestimated in its subtle impacts on you.




    It's not that bad.
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