Complaining is Bad for Your Brain!

Adriana Girdler

Defend yourself from non-stop negativity I was just reading an article from Inc. Magazine about how listening to complainers is bad for your brain. The …

Defend yourself from non-stop negativity

I was just reading an article from Inc. Magazine about how listening to complainers is bad for your brain.

The main idea of the article is that the brain acts like a muscle and if you are exposed to negativity for a long period of time, like listening to someone gripe, you are more likely to behave that way as well. In fact, negativity actually peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus which is the part of the brain needed for problem solving.

I am a firm believer in what we are exposed to in life does indeed impact our actions and surroundings. So, if you are surrounded by negativity, you will be negative. If you are surrounded by positivity, you will be positive. Our world, however, through media, can be a very negative place, so what can we do? The author recommends 3 things which I agree with and do myself:

  • Get some distance: Distancing yourself from the person, TV or situation will allow for the positive energy to start flowing again.
  • Ask the complainer to fix the problem: Sometimes getting distance is not an option. If you cannot easily walk away, a second strategy is to ask the complainer “What are you going to do about it?” Doing this will either lead the complainer to indignantly walk away or actually fix the problem. A win/win for everyone.
  • Shields up: If you are trapped listening to negativity use mental techniques to block out the griping. Think of yourself as Teflon; the comments slide off of you and cannot penetrate you. You could also try what athletes do when crowds get hostile; they think of a protective cloak around them. Or go away to your happy place all the while you are smiling and nodding at the person.

The fact of the matter is that we’re impacted by what we listen to and complaining does not solve problems. So, if you’re caught in this situation, you now have some techniques (your get out of jail card) to free yourself from this situation. Better yet, make a pact with yourself to stop complaining. Just think of how much better our working environment would be if people resolved their problems instead of complaining about them.

Tell me what you think. I welcome “positive” conversation.

How do you deal with colleagues that ooze negativity? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!


Adriana GirdlerAdriana Girdler is the President of CornerStone Dynamics Inc and an expert in business efficiency, helping leading corporations streamline internal processes to work smarter and improve productivity. Learn more about Adriana Girdler.

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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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