How to Deal With a Complaining Co-Worker

Complaining co-workers can cause you huge frustration -- not just for your professional performance and working ability, but also for your emotional happiness and comfort within the workplace environment. These complaints can divert your attention away from more important matters, causing your work output to suffer as conditions become more difficult to handle. Fortunately there are several methods for alleviating these problems, although there's no guaranteed strategy for permanently altering co-worker behavior.

Consider whether the complaints are valid. Although you may inherently feel your co-worker is making unnecessary trouble, consider putting yourself in the other person's shoes. When thinking over your past interactions, can you recall a few instances where you may not have treated your co-worker as effectively or tactfully as you could have? In the same vein, consider whether your co-worker may be under more pressure than usual -- this could be because of professional demands or ongoing personal difficulties. These exercises will help you develop more empathy for your co-worker, which may go a long way toward improving your future communication.

Practice being emotionally detached from the situation. You should, in short, endeavor to take your co-worker's complaints less personally; appreciate that they probably aren't directed toward you as an individual, but rather toward your role within the workplace. By doing this, you can help see the complaints in a more "matter of fact" light, enabling them to have less influence over your emotions.

Use positivity. If you feel your interactions becoming more negative with your complaining co-worker, this is likely to only increase the likelihood of further complaints. Instead, you should project an image of professionalism and calmness when dealing with your co-worker; don't let him sense you've been personally affected by his complaints, as this may create further tension.

Take action. If your co-worker's complaints are causing prolonged difficulties and stalled productivity, it's important to let a senior manager within the company know. Normally, issues like this may be handled by the Human Resources department.