Sometimes, whining seems like the national pastime. We run across whiners everywhere. They’re easy to spot and incredibly annoying. We might even be one of them.
We’ve all been guilty of whining at one time or another. We got plenty of practice doing it when we were children. And then, if we became parents ourselves, we wound up on the receiving end of whining. But you never really get used to hearing it. The long, high-pitched cry or sound that usually goes with it is like hearing nails scratching on a blackboard. Very unpleasant indeed.
Here’s an example of what it means to whine (and although children do it a lot, many adults have this bad habit as well), as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary:
If you whine, especially as a child, you complain or express disappointment or unhappiness repeatedly:
“Alice, if you keep whining I won’t take you — do you understand?”
Whining in the workplace is especially prevalent. You know the type. Whatever that person doesn’t like, they find a way to complain about it. Sometimes ad nauseam. You just want to get away from the person and hide. But usually, there’s no easy escape.
Oh, and we can’t forget the home environment. Everyone has experienced whining at home. Sometimes they are the whiner and sometimes the whinee (is that even a word?). Around the house, there are a million things to whine about. You know it and I know it. Your home is a veritable Petri dish for whining.
And, of course, we’ve been exposed to many world-class whiners celebrities. Remember tennis champion John McEnroe? Any close call that didn’t go his way was an occasion for him to whine about it. And whine he did. Constantly.
He’s not the only one, of course. The sports world is full of whiners, but you can find them in every walk of life, including politics (I’m looking at you, Mr. President).
The problem with whiners is that they only complain about a problem. They never offer up a solution to fix the problem. I guess they think bringing an issue to someone’s attention will make that person want to fix it themselves immediately. Not likely. They just want to get away from the whiner as fast as possible. And who can blame them for feeling that way?
Famous champion boxer and TV pitchman George Foreman had it right when he said this:
“When problems arise, you will usually find two types of people: whiners and winners. Whiners obstruct progress; they spend hours complaining about this point or that, without offering positive solutions. Winners acknowledge the existence of the problem, but they try to offer practical ideas that can help resolve the matter in a manner that is satisfactory to both parties.”
So what can you do when you hear someone whining about something? Well, a couple of things might help move the conversation away from whining to problem-solving, or at least end a whining session.
First, calmly listen to the person until they complete their whine, and then say, “You’ve raised an interesting problem. What do you suggest we do to solve it.” Rarely will that person have thought of potential solutions, so they will probably beg off and go about their way (you hope). If that doesn’t work immediately, keep asking them for a solution. Eventually, they’ll give up using you as a target for their whining since it doesn’t achieve their desired effect and give them any satisfaction.
Second, you can take a more direct approach by telling them that you’re not interested in hearing what’s wrong with something unless they have a possible solution. They will likely be taken aback by this approach and say something rude to you. But that’s okay as long as it discourages the person from whining to you again — there are lots of other targets for them, of course). Just don’t take the bait and get into an argument with them. If you do, they win, and you lose.
We’re never going to be able to wipe out whining completely, but we should do whatever we can to discourage it. And be on the lookout for those times you may lapse into a whining mode. You know what whining sounds like. So when you hear it coming out of your mouth, catch yourself and stop immediately. Everyone around you will be happy you did.
By the way, did you know there’s a National Whiners Day held every year on December 26th? And what a perfect date that is — the day after Christmas. Whiners can celebrate the season by complaining about the lousy presents they received.
So if you must whine, save it up for National Whiners Day and get it out of your system then — and encourage other whiners to do the same.
“The moment you tell someone else is the moment you become a whiner and the world’s smallest violin starts to play. The truth is, we all have problems.”
― J.A. Redmerski, The Edge of Never
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