The Price of Complaining — Can Whining Impact Your Reputation?

Everybody loves to vent a little bit every now and then. It’s only human. We all have stressors in our lives that can naturally lead to a little bit of complaining — to our friends, family, and even our coworkers.

But how much whining is too much whining? By doing it more, are you actually training yourself to continue to complain more often in the future? And how does complaining affect your reputation with other people, including your standing in the workplace?

There are entire books on how to complain less, and how to instead turn to problem-solving solutions, especially in the workplace. David Cunningham, a leader at Landmark Forum, an organization dedicated to helping people foster positive and permanent shifts in their overall quality of your life and way of thinking, recently appeared on ABC’s Good Morning Washington to talk about how to move “from whiner to winner,” in host Larry Smith’s words.

Cunningham noted that there are several steps people can take to work on complaining less, explaining that changing your communication to invite action, rather than whining, is a big part of the process. Working on tangible actions you can take to reduce your stress and complaining helps too.

It’s also important to simply focus on the good things in your life, rather than the negatives. Focusing on your health, your goals, your love life, and your career can help you to pay less attention to the things you’re apt to whine about.

So why should you work on these things, instead of just giving in to complaining all the time instead?

Because complaining can actually harm your reputation, particularly at work. Coworkers might think you’re unproductive, and not a problem solver, if you complain constantly, according to Forbes. The people you work with might also assume that if you’re complaining to them, you might also be complaining about them to someone else.

Ultimately, whining can hurt the trust level you have with people in your life. It’s not a huge leap to imagine that if complaining at work can cause your coworkers not to trust you, imagine what it does to the people in other areas of your life, who are arguably more important to you personally.

In addition, hearing you whine all the time might cause your coworkers or superiors to think you can’t handle being flexible, or that you won’t take responsibility for things. Again, these are things that can not only damage your reputation at work, but can also hurt the relationships you have with people outside the office too.

So the next time you feel a rant coming on, take a step back. Is this something you really need to complain about, or can you do something about the problem and stress less over it after it’s fixed? You never know who’s listening, and you don’t want to be labeled as a whiner, do you?