We have all been there, stuck listening to someone “vent”:  a code word designed to disguise a complainer, and suck you into being the concerned friend, providing an outlet for your friend or coworker a channel to vent their frustrations.   My advice, if you have the time and energy to complain, and have identified a problem, do yourself and those around you a favor, do something about it or go home!

I have always been a big believer in positive mental attitude as it has served me well in my career.  I have seen the damage a complainer can do to the morale of a team, and I have always done well steering clear of such individuals.  It has long been my policy to employ positive people who, when faced with a problem, are empowered to work with their team and management to solve the problem and move forward.  Great companies are not built by complaining, they are built by positive, passionate people who see a challenge as an opportunity to improve and move forward.

Listening to someone complain has never been something I have been able to tolerate.  My team is always better off after having eliminated such negative individuals.  Off to the competition you go!  While I have never been a fan of complainers, until today I was not aware it could actually be hazardous to your health.  I read an article by Minda Zetlin today that I found very interesting, entitled Listening to Complainers is Bad for Your Brain.  It gave me some great insight as to why I feel the way I do when I get stuck listening to a complainer, and what to do about it.

Many years ago, when I was in the mortgage business, I was speaking with a friend and mentor of mine.  It was a very difficult time in the market, and the company was struggling.  Almost no one was hitting their goals.  Lot’s of whining and complaining, it seemed contagious.  But Maria arrived each morning with a cheerful hello, sat down and went about her business. While almost every other broker was well below goal, Maria maintained the same stellar performance she enjoyed when “business was good”.  As we sat overhearing someone complain about this or that, she looked at me and said, “Some people make it happen, others wait for it to happen.  I prefer to make it happen.”  She went on to say, “if they took half the time and energy that they spend complaining and dragging others down, and applied it to working we would all have a lot less to complain about.”  Maira went on to be a top performer year after year, regardless of the market conditions, company policy or the noise around her.  All the while lifting those around her with her positive demeanor.

Minda’s article offers some great advice.  When you come across a complainer, suggest they work to fix it, or just walk away.