dear labby_edited-2

If there’s one thing we’re passionate about here at, it’s how to stay happy- at work as well as home. We get lots of questions about how to maintain healthy professional relationships in various situations, so we’ve brought in an expert who knows a thing or two about getting along with people- our resident labrador, Dear Labby. 

Dear Labby,

I work in a clinic that is having difficulty with a few of the staff. These particular staff members always seem to have something to complain about. We have tried to make it so that their issues get addressed, but it never seems to be enough.

If we address one issue, then ten others pop up. Do you have any advice to deal with this type of employee? Any advice would be appreciated.

Frustrated in Fargo


Dear Frustrated,

I don’t blame you for feeling flustered. I mean, if they have a full food and water bowl every thing else is gravy, right? Did someone pee on their Milk Bones? What’s up with the chronic sourpusses?

If someone can’t make it through a single day without muttering something ugly, they might be a chronic complainer. Don’t underestimate the ability of one (or in this case, a few) rotten fruit to poison the well. There are some things you can do:

  1. Make it an official event.

    Don’t let them just stop you on your way to your lunch break to air their grievances; schedule a time and let them know this is their chance to discuss what is bothering them. A lot of times they just want to be heard, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to it day in and out.

  2. Don’t minimize their complaints.

    Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, listen. You can empathize without necessarily agreeing. Sometimes the complaint masks a deeper problem in the office (“We haven’t gotten lunches in a month”), and other times the meeting makes them realize how petty they sound (“These Post-Its don’t go well with my skin tone.”)

  3. Ask them for the resolution.

    This redirects them from their attitude and refocuses them on working on a solution. If they aren’t willing to offer one, maybe they don’t really want one.

  4. Explain the consequences of their actions.

    Maybe they truly aren’t aware of how their attitude affects other employees. Maybe they do and just don’t care. It’s good for you to know where they stand.

  5. If all else fails, give them a very sincere, “Would you be happier seeking employment elsewhere?”

Dear readers, if you have anything to add to how to handle perpetual nitpickers, please do! I’m a sharing dog.

Need professional relationship advice? Dear Labby is here to help. Send your questions to and we’ll make sure to get it to Labby.