You’re no polyanna. You’re a realist who likes to know when things need to be fixed and a visionary who can see a better way beyond what everybody else settles for and takes for granted.
At the same time, you’ve surely had the experience of getting trapped by somebody in a whining session. This person is clearly not trying to identify a problem in order to solve it. She is just complaining to get some sympathy or to gang up on someone else.
It’s a bore — and it’s much more. According to Inc. Magazine, “Listening to Complainers is Bad for Your Brain.” Neuroscientists have determined that “exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity–including viewing such material on TV–actually peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus,” the part of the brain you use to solve problems.
You already know that being exposed to whining can make you more negative. But now you know it can also make you dumb.
So, how can you protect yourself from whiners? Inc. Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life, offers three positive responses:
- Get some distance — if you push back on complainers, you might become their target. Instead, try to politely walk away.
- Challenge the whiner to solve the problem — Make him put his money where his mouth is. If he’s so annoyed about something, what’s he going to do about it? If he’s not serious, this may shut him up. But it may also help him to move beyond complaining to action.
- Put up a mental shield — “When you’re trapped listening to a complaint, you can use mental techniques to block out the griping and save your neurons. Blake favors one used by the late Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros during a match against Jack Nicklaus–a match the crowd wanted Ballesteros to lose.’He was having difficulty handling the hostility of the crowd,’ Blake says. ‘So he imagined a bell jar that no one could see descending from the sky to protect him.'”
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group