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Is the person occupying the cubicle/ desk next to yours at the office perpetually drowning in his or her woes? Well, that isn't such a bad thing, as long as your neighbour doesn't disrupt your work. 'Office whiners' are a new clan of urban working individuals who take their problems to work. According to psychiatrist Dr Dayal Mirchandani, "These are socially dissatisfied people. Everyone has different social needs, and like gossiping with colleagues to vent themselves. Office whiners are not necessarily stereotyped women. Men too, chose their work stations to discuss their personal grievances."
Lawyer, Prachi Srinivas* says, "I have often come across seniors who whine about their colleagues to others in the office. It creates a bad situation when seniors talk about others behind their backs. There was this lady who, when she first joined our firm, did not have a lot of work. She would complain about not having enough to do, and when she did get a pile of work, she had the same look on her face!"
Talking to colleagues is fine so long as it doesn't destroy your work schedule. "To tackle office whiners, it is important to learn how to say no," says Dr Mirchandani. To maintain a healthy working relationship, you must make it clear, without being rude, that this sort of behaviour is not healthy for your colleague, nor for the office atmosphere. Put an end to it as soon as possible. If you are being disturbed, let the person know that you will talk to him or her after you finish your work, or after office hours.
"If I am being disturbed by my colleague's whining, I try to escape the situation by making excuses. I used to pretend to talk on the phone, go out for work, even tried to whine back at the person!" says Srinivas. "In the past I have tried snubbing the person too. But I have realised that it is best to work it out and rationalise the situation instead of trying to escape, because that is not always a feasible option. I also saw that when I genuinely offered solutions to their problems, the whining would stop. I have realised that whiners aren't really looking for a solution. They just want someone to listen to them. Although office whiners can be annoying, you can work out the problem with them, and reach a logical solution. "
If the situation is beyond repair and you are unable to talk it out with your colleague, then you can seek help from the office. "In certain work cultures, like government offices, it is not unusual to chat with co-workers over a cup of tea. But in MNCs and private firms, neglecting work and chatting is strictly prohibited. If the office whiner is harming a person individually, you can ask for a change of workstation, or speak to the HR manager. You can also recommend the whiner for counselling," says Dr Mirchandani.
It is important to maintain a healthy relationship with your colleagues, but not at the cost of your job. Office whiners crib about their lives at work because they probably have no other place where they can express themselves. They are victims of a fast-paced urban lifestyle, and need to be treated sympathetically. Don't let it affect your work, but try to understand your colleague and his or her reasons for behaving so. If you are able to solve the problems without hurting anyone's sentiments, then you can come out a winner.
Are you the office whiner?
Do you have a habit of constantly griping about work at the office?
Do people at your workplace avoid you during work hours?
Do they make excuses to duck out of conversations you start?
Do those stationed around you try to immerse themselves in work every time you look in their direction?
If you've answered in the affirmative to all the above questions, chances are, you're the office whiner. In such cases, it is best that you learn to gradually understand your situation, and how it is impacting other peoples' lives.
You need to realise that if you compulsively whine about every little thing, people will stop taking you seriously. When there is a real problem at hand, there may not be many who want to help. While discussing your grievances isn't so bad, the situation gets out of hand when it begins to bother other people.
If you see that you are unable to stop yourself from complaining all the time, nip the problem in the bud. Seek professional help. Modern offices are often associated with psychologists or psychiatrists who will understand your situation and help you establish a better relationship with your colleagues. Don't let the situation reach a point where your colleague have to give you a cold shoulder.
* Names changed to protect privacy.
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