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Not a complaint book

I refuse to be a Shikayat Pustika for people who just want to crib. So should you.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2010 01:18 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times

I refuse to be a ‘shikayat pustika’ for people who just want to crib. So should you.

Ever since I made fun of Bubbly aunty in this column, she’s stopped visiting my house as often as she used to. Now she visits only 3-4 times a week. Phew! And one of those days was yesterday. From the second she entered my home and till the moment she left, all that came out of her pretty mouth were complaints. Complaint about her kids, complaint about the maid’s behaviour, complaint about the vulgarity in TV shows, about Pappu Singh’s ‘too spicy’ pakoras to the height of corruption in the 2G spectrum spam.

By the end of it, I felt like a walking talking complaint box, taking in all that nonsense cribbing for two hours…. that’s like 119 minutes and 60 seconds longer than I cared about anything she was saying. C’mon, I’m not being rude or indifferent. But I’ve had enough of whiners. Those who have nothing but negative things to say about how their life is going. You meet such people everywhere. At home, in school/college, at work.

There’s a colleague, who, whenever I bump into, has something to crib about. And he’s like this five days in a week. Rest two days are holidays. Surely it can not be all that bad… all the time. No? But whining becomes a habit with some people. They feel guilty if things are fine in life. Sometimes it is possible for us to avoid whiners but most often, we are stuck with them because they could be people we care about. In that case, try the following ways to deal with the crib machines.

Help them understand they have a problem: Most whiners I know are fiercely defensive. They feel that whatever they are complaining about is genuine and therefore they are doing nothing wrong by cribbing. They are right. We all have problems and there’s no reason why we should not talk about them. But often they don’t realise when they cross the line between sharing troubles and turning into a perpetual whiner.

If you have a friend who only complains, politely tell him or her that each of their cribs may be valid, but if this is all they’ll ever talk about, ‘people’ may soon start avoiding them (don’t say you will, but they’ll get the message)

Don’t agree with whatever they say. Because it gives them a feeling that you are okay with being a cushion to absorb all the whining. Giving encouragement to a whiner by agreeing with them will only make them repeat the cribs, over and over.

Change them from helpless beings to problem solvers. Those who constantly crib sub consciously tell themselves that they are helpless. That problems are beyond their control. Try to steer them out of such generalisations. If they utter vague, ambiguous statements like, ‘everything is wrong with my life’ or ‘maybe I’m destined to have these troubles,’ ask them to enlist specific problems so that you could focus on finding solutions, not on endless cribbing.

Use the right body language to discourage whining. The moment Bubbly aunty begins her complaining session, I normally pick up my phone and start fiddling with it. My responses are limited to ‘hmm’ or ‘okay’ and if she starts to repeat some old sob story, I interrupt her to say that I know the background. She normally gets the message. What you sometimes can’t say in words, your body language can say… silently, and very effectively.

Surprise them by showing empathy. Now this is a tricky one. But I read somewhere that such a psychological trick works wonders if used correctly. If someone is constantly complaining how bad things are, say ‘That is terrible. I’m sure there is no way to deal with it.’ To your surprise, the person will turn around and say ‘things are not entirely bad, maybe I could do something to deal with it.’

It’s human tendency. When you give empathy, the whiner tries to counter your negativity by looking at the positive side. However, if you insist to show them the positive side, all you’ll get are comments like ‘you are not understanding enough.’

And if none of the above works, stop trying to reform the whiner. You are not a punching bag or a complaint book forever. End the conversation.

Sonal Kalra can’t stand constant whining. Why does she have such people around her? Why can’t she stop them from complaining? Why can’t things go right in her life? She’s so helpless.

Mail your calmness tricks at

First Published: Nov 27, 2010 16:56 IST