Every manager knows the deal: You only hear from certain people when they have something to gripe about!
And more often than not, it’s one or two people who are always doing the griping – whether it’s about the building, business practices, new policies or the company in general.
Here are three ways you can diffuse the gripers quickly before they suck the life right out of you:
1. Don’t sympathize or empathize
Gripers want others to get on their side, more than anything else.
So set the tone from the get-go: Don’t agree with their gripes or apologize in any way.
Instead say, “So what you’re saying is, you think (or want) …. Right?”
Let them rephrase it if necessary.
2. Keep your answer short & sweet
Tell them what you can or can’t do about the “problem.”
If they protest, repeat it. That way they know they can take their complaint elsewhere.
3. Put the ball in their court
Chances are there’s something the griper can do by himself to alleviate the problem.
For example, if it’s a personality clash with other co-workers, suggest the person “let it go” and focus on other issues.
Sometimes gripers need this harsh advice. It’s a tough but fair way of saying, “Grow up and stop looking for things to complain about.”