Me, an office newbie with a desk located near a much trafficked corridor entrance/exit. Him, an office veteran with a bad attitude and a need for unloading his disappointments/observations/concerns/bullshit on others. He stops by my desk at least twice per day and I am afraid I will be lumped in as being the ‘Eeyore 2.0’ of the office. In order to save my reputation and sanity, how do I get him to take his complaints elsewhere?Ah, the office ass has found a new ear to bend and you don’t want to be guilty by association. By all means, protect your image and your time by refusing to be a sounding board. Behold this completely fabricated, yet totally realistic, conversation. Office Ass: Ugh, for real. I am being called in to justify my new budget proposal. I mean really! [Looks like he has found something to complain about, don’t be drawn in.] You: Oh, bummer. [This is your empathy statement.] Office Ass: I know, right? [Don’t get pulled into this conversation!] You: Well, what are you going to do about it? [This statement lets him know he owns this problem, it is not yours.] Office Ass: What am I going to DO about it? Go to the meeting for my budget proposal, it is my only choice! [And look who found a solution to his own problem.] You: Sounds like a good idea. Let me know how it goes, good luck! See you later, I have to make a call/go to the bathroom/build a football stadium for my Sim City metropolis. [Close the conversation with a sincere statement and let him know your intention to move on with your day.] Here is a simple formula to neutralize a complainer, inspired by ‘Love and Logic’ by Jim Fay: Empathy Statement:
- Oh, bummer
- How sad
- That stinks
- Oh no, I bet that feels terrible
- What do you think you are going to do about it?
- What is your next move?
- How are you going to handle it?
- Let me know how everything turns out
- Give me an update