Posted by: Donna Cunningham | October 25, 2009

How to Handle Chronic Complainers

(Found at: and attributed to Alex Kjerulf. ) 

Donna says:  Saturn is leaving hyper-critical Virgo at long last on October 29th, when it enters Libra. (It returns for a few months from March to July, 2010.)  Not to complain, but I’m fed up to the gills with the constant bitching, nitpicking, fault-finding, and blaming that passes for commentating among journalists and for political wisdom among members of congress.  There’s also a generalized air of disgruntlement in the world at large in which nothing but nothing satisfies  the public.     

I’ve always had a good impression of natal Saturn in Virgo, as it so often corresponds with exceptional capability and responsible service in a worker. Alas, the current sojourn has somewhat soured me on that Saturn sign. This article in WikiHow had great suggestions for dealing with the chronically disgruntled.  Fabulous word, disgruntled—not especially aesthetically pleasing, but evocative…it hints of constipation, that frequent Virgo complaint. (Every sign has body parts associated with it, and Virgo rules the intestines.)

The wikiHow article advises:

wmsternthumbsdown-a2dGot any chronic complainers where you work? It seems like every workplace has them – the people for whom the weather is always too warm or too cold, the boss is a jerk, the food is lousy, work sucks and … you fill out the list. No matter how good things get they still only see the bad – and they go to huge lengths to point it out to everyone around them.

 Workplaces need to do something about the chronic complainers because they tend to make people around them unhappy at work. It’s a fact that negative people are highly contagious, and one chronic complainer can easily get an entire department down.

We try many different strategies to deal with complainers – one German IT company even bans whiners from the workplace. Yep – if you have a bad day you are not allowed to come in. But most of the strategies we normally use on complainers don’t help and often make matters worse. Check out what not to do and then read what you should do.


  1. Note the things that just don’t work. There are several commonplace strategies that we tend to rely on and they just don’t work to stop chronic complaining:
  • Cheering them up doesn’t work. As in “Oh, it can’t be that bad”, “Come on, cheer up” or the perennial favorite “Time heals all wounds”. Saying things like this shows the complainer that you’re not taking their pain seriously. When you tell a complainer “it’s not that bad”, he will often complain even harder to convince you (and himself) that his problems are very serious indeed.
  • Suggesting solutions doesn’t work. “Why don’t you…”, “have you tried…” or even worse “You should really have…”. The complainers’ problems are really serious and can’t be solved by a few smart-ass suggestions from you. Or so they’ve convinced themselves. The more you try to suggest solutions, the harder they will work to convince you and themselves that these solutions could never possibly work for them.
  • Telling them to pull themselves together doesn’t work. “Quit complaining and do something about it” or one favorite: “You either want the problem or you want the solution”. Yeah, telling them that their problems are trivial and they just need to pull themselves together is going to work juuuuust fine. All complainers magically stop complaining at this. Or do they?wmsternpointfinger-a2d
  • Complaining about the complainers doesn’t work. “Damn, that Sally complains a lot doesn’t she?” Guess what, you just became a complainer too!
  • Ignoring them / avoiding them doesn’t work. This makes complainers clamor for attention even more – which usually makes people ignore them even more. That’s a vicious cycle right there.
  • Complaining along with them doesn’t work. “You know what, you’re right, the boss is a jerk. And the weather sucks. In fact everything sucks.” This can be kind of cosy because it creates bonding and an us-against-the-world feeling. But ultimately it’s a bad idea because the more people complain, the less prone they are to doing something about their problems.
  • Confronting them doesn’t work. You can drive the complaints underground where you don’t see them, but they will probably still be going on. And repressed complaining is worse than open complaining because it gets to stew and grow while it’s hidden.
  1. Try the trick that does work. It is very simple but also very effective. Listen to the complainer Then, with deep sympathy in your voice, say “You know, that sounds terrible. I don’t know how you deal with all of these problems.” The answer will often be “Well…, it’s not that bad!” This approach works because it gives the complainer what he’s really after: Empathy. Not cheering up, not solutions, not egging-on. Just understanding of what is, for him, a difficult situation. There are two important things to notice here:
    1. Don’t be sarcastic when you say it. Be sincere.
    2. You don’t have to agree that these are huge problems. Even if everything the complainer says sounds trivial to you, remember that it feels like a huge problem to him or her wouldn’t go on about it. What seems trivial to one person can be a huge problem for others. So you’re not saying “Yes, I agree that’s a huge problem”. And you’re certainly not saying “Oh, poor poor you” in a sarcastic voice. You’re just acknowledging the fact that this is a huge problem for that person. Which undeniably it is.wmsternconfront-a2d
  2. Be patient and realistic. Does this trick make the complaining go away? Only sometimes. But it keeps you from being part of a vicious cycle of responses that just makes the complainers complain more and more and more. The cycle is cut at the point you take their distress seriously. Try this approach on your favorite complainer and leave your response in the comments on this article to tell everyone how it goes!

Related wikiHows 

For more Articles on Relationship Issues on Skywriter, see the category Relationship Help.

About the Author:  found at:  Original source of article, Alex Kjerulf, How to Handle Chronic Complainers. reprinted with permission of WikiHow. See his website, Positive Sharing here: Happy Hour is 9 to 5 by Alexander Kjerulf.

Art credit:  Like the majority of the images on this site, the disgruntled woman in argyle shown here comes from


  1. I’d answer like that: “Did you ever thought about a solution? I’m sure you can solve, you’re an adult.” if the situation fits to this. If not, then I’d simply say: “You know, there are a lot of things to do, just try to keep your mind off of your problems.” Of course, having a sincere and compassionate tone.

    Usually, I’m not limited to this set of answers, I’m used to be creative with them and every time they fit to every situation and person I’m encountering. Bless my Sagittarius stellium. 😀

  2. Interesting. When I read your intro I thought there must be some sort of Pisces thing that could be used for dealing with Saturn in Virgo problem/Complaining. And then the answer came right up in the article “Empathy.” It’s empathy used with some reverse psychology stuff, but that’s good enough.

    I’ve been studying charts of successful people who come from Divorced families. While I didn’t finish tabulating the charts Saturn in Virgo stood out from all the rest of the signs. There were no successful people from divorce who had a Saturn in Virgo. Not a big enough pool to generalize from, but sort of made me think that this is a very difficult natal placement for people who come from stressful childhoods.

  3. these are very nice tricks indeed.. I have had a Virgo friend who fits the bill.

    I have tried all the tricks and also the usual cheering up exercise, she just drains me of energy actually- I am sorry but in my opinion, it is point-less. (esp when the relation is of being social acquaintance or friend- not family)

    she can go on and on about her problems while she has a touch-wood fantastic life- very privileged than most around her. (now I am on verge of being the complainer 😉 )

    I have tried all and then broke off with her cold-turkey. 😦
    she still writes to tell me that ”no friend ever stays and that people always take her for granted and her love is not returned and I am too one person who she loved and cared for, and I did the same to her— sigh– but she still prays for me and maybe one day she gets a true friend” ..

    I can only read it and in my heart- say – AMEN

    (ps: she is Virgo Sun)

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