Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

Dealing with the Chronically Offended

I know a guy in the Midwest who is offended by everything. Whatever someone does for him he’s upset that it wasn’t something better. He’s out of a job right now, and wears it on his sleeve. Talks about it obsessively, and is upset everyone else has a job. You naturally want to help people in need, but some people just won’t stop complaining – no matter what you do.  We get a group together to go out to eat, and he rips us because he doesn’t have any money. We invite him to a movie and he’s mad because he’s not “rich.” All he talks about is how life isn’t fair. But the truth is, he’s made a lot of poor decisions that have landed him in this exact spot.  Plus, the jerky attitude doesn’t help.

You may know someone like that in your office or family. You hate being around him because he simply makes life miserable for everyone. I’m not a psychologist, but I can tell you this – he’s not mad at you, he’s mad at himself.  Every time he sees you, he’s looking into a mirror and seeing his own shortcomings. So stop apologizing just to be nice. Be honest. Don’t be critical, but don’t be a doormat either. That just enables more bad behavior. Instead, here’s some things he or she should re-focus on:

First of all, “poor” is a state of mind as much as a financial condition.  Broadcasting that you’re out of a job, and being mad at others who have one doesn’t fix it – it just drives away the very people who could help.

Second – be gracious.  Always be gracious.  It’s not everyone else’s fault that you’re struggling. Plus, lighten up and you’ll be amazed at the number of people who’ll want to help.

Last – change your attitude.  Placing the blame everywhere else won’t solve the problem. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your fault or not – you’re the only one who can make change happen. Own it. Man up. Once people see that attitude change, they’ll be lining up to help….

Lastly, if you know a chronic complainer that won’t stop, then stop paying them attention. After being stung by a vicious attack by a member of Parliament, Winston Churchill was asked why he didn’t respond. He replied: “If I respected him, I would care about his opinion, but I don’t, so I won’t.  

Even when it’s a family member, there comes a time when responding only enables their bad behavior. Know when to ignore it and move on. Do you have a chronic complainer in your life?

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10 Comments

  1. I was once pretty good friends with someone who couldn’t stop complaining.  Could. Not. Stop.   I took your advice (years before you gave it!) and just started ignoring the complaints.  Literally.  Every time she complained, I changed the subject.  So when we got together for lunch, our opening conversation would go something like this:
    Her:  “Traffic was awful.  I hate living in L.A.”
    Me:  “Did you see The Amazing Race last night?  Would you eat a bug if you had to?”
    Her:  “These shoes are so painful, I think my feet are going to swell up and fall off.”
    Me:  “I might get a manicure this afternoon.  I’m thinking light pink.”
    Her:  “You won’t believe how long AT&T had me on hold this morning.”
    Me:  “Did you see that skywriting over the beach yesterday?”
    …Never did she notice the non sequiturs.  Never did she realize I wasn’t responding to a thing she said.  And instead of spending 30 to 60 minutes with me commiserating over all her complaints, she got it out of her system in 5 minutes, and we could move on to a normal conversation…..

    Like you said.  Just ignore ’em…..

  2. So this is slightly random…but I think it’d be cool if you did a blog about Parents and what information is ok for them to be spewing about their kids, specifically on social networks. For instance, we have this really great guy at out church, but literally ever other status is about how his kid doesn’t want to listen to him and how he needs to be “more Godly”…is that really a good idea?

  3. learn a lot from your advice, it is true that chronic complainers sucks out your energy and your life :)… thank you for sharing your thoughts .

  4. I call them high-maintenance people.
    When you have someone like that in your small group in church, it is a drag. They need to be pampered and you end up watching their faces when you teach to see if they are offended.
    I tolerate it for a season and then ignore them.
    My experience is that when you stop paying or push to reform, they drop out.
    You have sigh of relief and relax your tense muscles, thanking God for His favor!
    It’s sad, because they don’t help themselves nor allow you to do. I actually feel sorry for them, especially when they leave instead of changing!

  5. I call them high-maintenance people.
    When you have someone like that in your small group in church, it is a drag. They need to be pampered and you end up watching their faces when you teach to see if they are offended.
    I tolerate it for a season and then ignore them.
    My experience is that when you stop paying or push to reform, they drop out.
    You have sigh of relief and relax your tense muscles, thanking God for His favor!
    It’s sad, because they don’t help themselves nor allow you to do. I actually feel sorry for them, especially when they leave instead of changing!

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