Reading time: 90 Seconds

1.    Interrupt

2.    Investigate

3.    Validate

4.    Motivate

5.    Delegate

It can be really frustrating having to deal with people who are always complaining.

Of course, you have the usual four options for dealing with difficult people: ignore them, dump them, call the cops, or deal with them. This short Boost focuses on option #4: deal with them. This option works with pretty much everybody including a partner, a child, your boss or a client.

The vast majority of serial complainers are analytical by nature.  They tend to be more socially reserved than socially outgoing and more rational than emotional. Analytical types are very good at spotting problems. This is an invaluable characteristic. We can’t grow as a society without them as they balance the more emotional, spontaneous and socially outgoing “opportunity spotters”. Taken to excess though it can lead to complaining and whining.

When this happen here’s a formula that interrupts their pattern of complaining without being rude.

You can use part, or all, of the following “pattern interrupt” as you feel necessary. Use your own words. Most of the time two or three interruptions of their “habit” of complaining alone is enough to alter a complainer’s thought patterns.

Interrupt and Investigate

Politely and calmly interrupt them. Say, “Can I ask you to pause for a moment and tell me exactly what it is you want.” (as opposed to what they don’t want)


Listen to what they’re saying – nod and say “aha, ok, I understand.” It really helps if, while you’re doing this, you synchronize your voice tone and overall body language with theirs. (match their attitude, stand more or less like they stand, speak in more or less the same tone and volume). Let them get it out of their system. It won’t normally take more than 90 seconds. Make sure you keep the person focused. If they drift off the point bring them back.


Next ask, “how would you feel if this problem was fixed?” Wait for an answer. Dig deep. (Them: “blah, blah, blah…” You: “Yes, and what else?” Repeat until they run out of things to say. During this process keep the person focused on the one particular gripe.

Then say “Ok, so what would it take to fix it?” Encourage an answer. Listen, nod and say “aha.”.

Ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10 with one being low and 10 being high, how motivated are you to fix it?” Listen, nod and say “aha.”


Now ask “What is the first step we should take?” or “How can we make sure this doesn’t happen again” etc.

Come to an agreement and take the first step.

Keep your advice focused, brief and to the point, and don’t ever say “things aren’t so bad.”

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