Communicate on the Same Wavelength



Why do some people complain all the time, and what can we do about it?

All it takes is one complaining employee for the mood and effectiveness of others to deteriorate (Psychology Today, 2017). That’s why it’s so important for every leader to be effective in the communication process, which will allow for the relief of tensions caused by complaining in the team.

Where does complaining come from?

Satisfying the psychological needs of employees – such as the feeling of being appreciated and belonging to the organization – is a key component in building professional satisfaction among an entire group (McKinsey, 2022). However, even in the best run teams, voices of dissatisfaction can emerge.

So why do people complain? It depends, of course…

For some people, negativity is an automatic mindset – these are the type of  employees who are never satisfied.

Others express anger and dissatisfaction in order to gain the attention and sympathy of other coworkers.

There is also a type of complaining called instrumental – people who use it express their dissatisfaction in order to change their situation and solve problems they are experiencing (Psychology Today, 2017).

Why should complaining be prevented?

Regular expression of dissatisfaction not only fails to bring relief to the complainer, but it also leads to unfavorable physiological changes in the brain. As a consequence, people who complain are not as good at making decisions and solving complex tasks.

Repetition of negative messages also reinforces negative thinking patterns – only those elements that are perceived as unsatisfactory become noticeable, while positive feelings and creative solutions are no longer available. As a consequence of this process, a complaining employee is unable to perform well.

A negative attitude, black-and-white thinking and an inability to compromise also prevent satisfactory teamwork (Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, 2021). When surrounded by complaining people, it’s hard to create a good atmosphere. Negative thinking and constantly expressing dissatisfaction has a strong impact on other coworkers who feel overwhelmed and tired (Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, 2021).

As a result, their ability to cope with difficulties decreases. Stressed employees usually misinterpret situations, incorrectly assess threats, which then makes them perform the tasks entrusted to them at a lower level with longer turnaround time. It also contributes to professional burnout and increases the turnover of employees who leave a team due to the toxic environment.

With this said, a good leader cannot just leave an organization because of complaining employees.

How to deal with complaining employees?

Working with people who complain is not easy for many reasons: they affect the emotional state and productivity of the entire team. Therefore, both colleagues and leaders would prefer to avoid contact with them. Unfortunately, this avoidant management style will not prevent the organization from losing money.

The best answer to the problem of dissatisfied employees are meetings to introduce principles of good communication. Firstly, leaders should adhere to these principles personally and regularly. Secondly, they should refrain from subconsciously striving to end conversations with employees as quickly as possible and instead formulate questions appropriately. For example, an overly general “how’s it going” should be replaced with a more specific “did I give you enough time to finish the project?” (McKinsey, 2022).

How does Empatyzer help deal with this issue?

When a complaining employee appears in a team, the leader must adopt a compassionate and open attitude towards them. This requires a lot of emotional energy and time from them. These resources, in turn, usually tend to be in low supply so it’s worth it for them to find support in another empathetic person in such situations.

With Empatyzer, you don’t have to be empathetic to act empathetic. Empatyzer will provide practical advice on what to do and what to avoid in communication with a specific person. Even that special person in your team who has managed to turn complaining into an art form.


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The first professional system to teach good communication in teams and entire organizations when and where they need it