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Top 7 Ways to Deal with Whiners

By Kevin Kearns

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We all whine. It feels good and even has some benefits. It can release frustration and help you keep moving forward. However, whining can also be extremely detrimental. It often consumes a great deal of time and produces little new information. If left unchecked, whining may spread from one employee to another, like the flu. Unfortunately, washing your hands or receiving a shot will not stop this plague. It is up to you, courageous leader, to manage the whining on your team. The seven tips below will be a great start.

  1. Ignore It: Pass it by like a used Yugo. Most whining needs attention to stay alive. If you ignore it, the whining will likely shrivel up and die. The problem is that some leaders feed the whining every time they see it. This reinforces to the whiner that all you have to do is whine and you will get what you want. Ignore it and it may go away!

  2. Believe: Have faith they will overcome the issue. Some whining is actually a cry for support. The whiner wants to point out how tough their situation is for them. In essence, they are saying "look at me, look what I have to do." When their leader shows no doubt in the ability of the employees to complete a task, the whining is likely to stop and the task is likely to be completed.

  3. Believe: Have faith they will overcome the issue. Some whining is actually a cry for support. The whiner wants to point out how tough their situation is for them. In essence, they are saying "look at me, look what I have to do." When their leader shows no doubt in the ability of the employees to complete a task, the whining is likely to stop and the task is likely to be completed.

  4. Listen and Guide: Empathize with how they are feeling and guide them in another direction. Do some leader-akido. Use the whiner's energy toward another area. Some whiner's have the desire to do well, but their energy is misplaced. Listen to the concern. Sincerely demonstrate your empathy for their feelings (but don't say they are right if they are not.) Then, guide them to take action that will help them and the organization. It may be toward solving the issue, or it may be towards solving an unrelated issue.

  5. Drama: Exaggerate what they are saying and tie it directly to the end of civilization. "What are we going to do!?" Paint an over-the-top picture of doom and gloom. By the time you are done, the whiner will likely be laughing or annoyed. The laughing is good because it may mean they see the humor in their whining. Becoming annoyed is not a bad response either. You at least know more of what you are dealing with and you can move onto one of the other whine-busting tips.

  6. ROI: Point out their Return On Investment. Some whining may only need to be faced with a clear vision of the future. This reminds me of having to clean my room as a child. I would whine all the time when told to clean it. However, when I was informed that if I clean my room, I will be able to go to the movies or some other cool activity, I suddenly lost the desire to whine.

  7. The Wizard: Let them see behind the curtain. Just like the Wizard of Oz, so much of what leaders do is kept behind the curtain. As leaders, we often attempt to make what we do seem like magic. Extreme whining is a perfect time to let an employee see behind the curtain, see all of the work that goes into many of the "magic" moments you create. Once the employee sees all of the challenges you face, the importance of their whining will become self evident.




    As you start cleaning up the whining, don't forget to look at the whiner in the mirror. "Do as I say, not as I do" is not recommended for any issue facing a leader. It is especially ill-advised with whining. And by all means, even if it won't help with whining - WASH YOUR HANDS!

Kevin Kearns is President of Kearns Advantage, a leadership coaching company. Kearns Advantage has a proven track record of developing strong leaders. Kevin holds a Master of Science degree in Organization Development and is a member of the Coachville Graduate School of Coaching. Subscribe to Kevin’s free leadership newsletter at http://www.kearnsadvantage.com.

Source: http://Top7Business.com/?expert=Kevin_Kearns

Article Submitted On: August 03, 2005