Complaining Behavior

Complaining behavior is the characteristic trait of a person, marked by a negative psychological state of perpetual dissatisfaction and annoyance with events and people around them, engulfing every aspect of their life. Consequently, such a behavior engenders a pessimistic outlook, undermining inter-personal relationships, hindering the growth and productivity of people around, with the hostile cloud of negativity and despair. While it is natural for people to complain occasionally for inconvenient disruptions or when they are going through an unfavorable phase in life, complaining as a habit could be inimical to the individual and his surrounding s. Habitual complaining is a passive-aggressive psychological disorder, where the individual resorts to complaining as a compulsive resistance to conduct oneself otherwise, or in a more positive manner. Such chronic complainers are often apathetic to the emotional reactions of others or existing turmoil in the life of others, invading them with an unwelcome stream of negative thoughts and energy.


Why do people complain?

People may complain for various reasons. For some, complaining is merely an instrument to attract attention, yielding them the social mileage of empathy and recognition, boosting their morale, in turn. Some people may use complaining as a conversational ice-breaker with strangers, seeking to build a comfort zone, by complaining about common scenarios of everyday life. The use of negative reinforcements to bond with another human being emanates from the belief that, such issues are more likely to build solidarity between the victims of similar circumstances. For others, complaining is a positive tool to ventilate their feelings of anger, sorrow or remorse in a controlled manner, to a trusted friend or well-wisher, relieving the “complainant” of much of their woes. Explaining the sequences leading to the state of dissatisfaction and anxiety or even rage is a mode people use for seeking approval of their feelings and emotions. Complaining is a process people resort to, for getting their feelings and behavior validated by someone they trust. When faced with difficult situations, people complain, hoping for solutions to their problems. Complaining, according to this group of people, is a panacea to their predicament. To others, complaining is a mechanism to evade personal and social responsibilities. It is their alibi for poor performance in tests or the justification for not participating in that important charity event. Complaining is also resorted to for establishing superiority and domination. Complaining about someone else's physical attributes, professional achievements, or characteristic traits may be a mere medium to vocalize one's own superiority, fueling the ego and self-esteem of the complainer. Complaining is also used as a device to control and influence others, winning people over to one's own camp.

Complaining behavior as a hindrance to personal fulfillment and productivity

While occasional complaining is natural and conducive to a healthy life, complaining constantly eventually becomes a habit, detrimental to fruitful personal development and professional growth. Chronic complaining is a compulsive behavior, obstructing positive thoughts and conduct. Such a toxic habit embitters the person concerned and dampens inter-personal relationships. Habitual complaining breeds suspicion, so that the victim of such a behavior is constantly skeptical of the motives of people around him, distrusting them, depriving him of fulfilling inter-personal relationships, in the process. Gradually, chronic complaining behavior may culminate into a passive-aggressive psychological disorder. Chronic complainers have the propensity to constantly blame others for their life situations and easily lose temper for no particular reason. Such people are disgruntled members of the society, resentful and hostile towards one and all. A complaining behavior, therefore, saps individuals of the positive energy required for constructive endeavors and a rewarding life. Chronic complainers are also liable to procrastinate, which in turn, kills the urge to proactively work towards achieving personal and professional goals. Such a behavioral pattern generates incompetence and hinders productivity, depriving the victims of prosperity and success. Habitual complainers are also observed to exhibit the trait of resistance to change and are usually resentful of constructive feedback from others. In doing so, they trap themselves in virulent webs of negativity, leading to hopelessness and dejection. Thus, complaining behavior gives rise to a pessimistic outlook towards life, which crushes the zeal in individuals to undertake positive meaningful pursuits towards improving one's material and emotional stature. Chronic complainers are also prone to evade responsibilities by blaming every life event on unfavorable circumstances, presumably created by other people, the existing socio- political system or even unhappy co-incidences. Such an attitude furthers inefficiency, hinders productivity and makes happiness a far cry.

Impacts on society

Chronic complaining behavior has a negative impact on the society. Habitual complainers contaminate their surroundings with pollutants, such as, pessimism and negativity. Not only do complainers put a brake on their own productivity, they impede the productivity of people around them by instigating negative emotions and thought patterns in them, hampering their enthusiasm and the positive drive to attain productive ends. Habitual complainers, plague innovative and creative enterprises, by diverting precious time and energy of others into wasteful negativity. Complaining behavior drains efficient and diligent people of their valuable mental energy and optimism, rendering them incompetent and unproductive. Chronic complaining can be equated to an anti-social activity, with dangerous repercussions for the society. By continuously blaming others and focusing on/ pointing out their negative attributes, chronic complainers also demoralize people around them and paralyze their self-esteem. It has been observed that a complaining behavior weakens problem-solving abilities. Chronic complainers thwart the productivity and momentum of the society through negative reinforcements and unproductive and/or pernicious behavioral patterns. Complaining behavior generates dissatisfaction in society through the negative emotions of rage, impatience and annoyance, involved in it. Apart from adversely affecting the psychology of individuals in the society, complaining behavior was also observed to result in physiological ailments such as, an elevated blood pressure and higher cortisol levels. While occasional meaningful complaining can address the grievances of people and fix problems in various arenas of life, incessant complaining is a toxic behavior, with ruinous effects on society. Studies have demonstrated that exposure to chronic complaining, over an extended period of time, can affect the Hippocampus region of the brain, and potentially make people dim-witted. It has been noted that even passively listening to chronic complainers is as harmful as second-hand smoke.

Complaining behavior: towards reducing the impact and rectifying it

The intensity of impact of complaining behavior makes it imperative to find solutions, to reduce the detrimental impact of such a behavioral pattern. One feasible option is to walk away from such chronic complainers. This non-compliance, implying the boycott of drain of positive emotional wealth, saves people from the negativity and pessimism engendered by chronic complainers. Habitual complainers can be encouraged to confront their problems, rather than unloading their irrational mental baggage on others, unnecessarily burdening the people around with their mental woes. Another effective measure to rule out the negative impact created by chronic complainers is to visualize images of beauty and peace, rather than attentively listening to streams of toxic words imposed by the complainer. Complaining behavior is as harmful to others, as it is for the complainer himself. Therefore, it is necessary to rectify this negative behavior, to terminate the pernicious impact it casts upon the complainer himself and on others, around him. Letting go of a long-established habit is not easy. It requires conscious efforts and planning to rectify a long-standing complaining behavior. For the beginners, maintaining a journal of important conversations for the initial weeks can help the complainer take note of the negative words uttered, and keep track of his progress. Conscious efforts to reframe their words about a negative experience or event could bring about attitudinal changes, making the complainer more positive and optimistic, over a period of time. Words have a profound impact on our psychology. While negative words entailed in a complaining behavior steer people towards emotional negativity, positive words have the beneficial effect of making them feel more in control, generating positive feelings and energy. It is essential for complainers to replace negative words and emotions with positive emotions. Last but not the least, focusing on one's blessings can divert one's attention from negative thoughts and channelize them towards positivity.


It has been observed by psychologists that while incessant complaining is detrimental to personal fulfillment and collective productivity, occasional griping to ventilate and redress grievances, may be congenial to a healthy life. Rather than bottling up feelings of anger and dissatisfaction over a certain cause, it is healthier to let them out, in a rational way, when it's necessary. However, what is critical here is carefully choosing the battles, to ventilate about what really matters, and to complain about real issues, in order to get them fixed. Even when people talk about their problems, it is crucial to keep the tone cordial, so there is less negativity generated by such conversations. Also, the constant effort towards solving problems, rather than whining about them can help eradicate the root cause of complaining behavior. Complaining behavior is a menace to the complainer and the society that they live in. It creates pessimism, leading to stress and various psychological/physiological ailments. Chronic complainers paint the world negative that distorts the reality of the situation. Complaining behavior impedes productivity with its demoralizing effects on the psychology, keeping fulfillment or material success at bay. It surrounds people with an aura of negativity, making happiness and tranquility a distant, unattainable dream. Therefore, it is all-important to strive towards restraining complaining behavior, to foster optimism, positivity and effective communication - the indispensable elements to a blissful and rewarding life.


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