We all need to vent occasionally. When things go wrong at work, complaining to a coworker can make the situation better. But what should you do if you have a coworker who likes to complain constantly? It can be hard to deal with non-stop negativity on a daily basis. If you’re dealing with this type of situation, here are some things you can do to try and separate yourself from your unhappy coworker’s never-ending complaints:

  • Get out before it really begins – The easiest way to avoid getting involved in your coworker’s complaints is to extricate yourself in the very beginning. If you know that a certain coworker likes to complain a lot, and he or she starts sharing those complaints with you, try to shut it down as quickly as you can. Make a few sympathetic comments and then excuse yourself. Your coworker will realize that you’re not a very satisfying person to vent to and will hopefully find someone else.
  • Be distracting – If your coworker is complaining and it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to end, try to be distracting. After listening to your coworker’s complaints for a reasonable amount of time, change the subject. Pick a topic that’s positive (or at least neutral) and non-work related. It might help to change the tone and course of the conversation.
  • Offer simple solutions – If you can’t distract your unhappy coworker, try to offer simple solutions to his or her problems. This could satisfy your coworker and end the complaints. But be warned – this technique could also annoy your coworker. Most of the time, people want to vent but they don’t actually want advice. So your helpful suggestions could be unwelcome. (But hey – at least it will probably end the conversation!)
  • Work at staying happy – If there’s nothing you can do to stop your coworker from complaining and you end up spending a lot of time listening to his or her problems, it could make you start to feel unhappy about your own work situation. Don’t let this happen to you! Try not to let your coworker’s unhappiness make you feel negative and dissatisfied. Try to stay positive and focus on all of the good things that you have going on at work and in life.


Career Builder. (2016, November 27). Moody news: Tips for when you’re surrounded by angry co-workers. Centre Daily Times, p. 3D.