Almost every office worker has to put up with one or two whiney coworkers, but admin assistants often have to handle far more than their fair share of complainers. Although it can be tempting to tell whiners to be quiet and stop complaining, admin assistants need to take a professional approach to dealing with whiney people.
Although many admin assistants think that they need to bite their tongue and simply put up with annoying people, letting frustration build up can increase the risk of an angry outburst. Avoid this professional disaster by handling the situation early on in a positive manner.
People whine in the office because they want attention. Although some people simply always have to be the center of attention, most whiners are trying to bring attention to legitimate problems; they just don't choose the most professional method of raising awareness of an issue. The best way to deal with these whiners is to tackle them head on. When a whiner starts up with the usual complaints, admin assistants can politely suggest that he take those complaints to the boss, human resources department or IT team — whoever is most likely to be able to do something about the problem.
It can often take some time for whiners to get the message. Admin assistants need to stay firm and continue to instruct whiney people to address their complaints to the relevant person. Above all, admin assistants need to avoid encouraging the whiners' complaints: resist the temptation to nod and make sympathetic noises in response to the whining, as this can send the message that you are willing to listen to endless complaints that the whiner has no intention of proactively addressing.
Sympathizing with whining coworkers is dangerous for another reason. It is easy to give the whiners the impression that you agree with their grumbles. This can lead to tension in the workplace, as rumors circulate saying that you were the one complaining about the manager or another member of the team. Admin assistants, who often have to maintain good relationships with everyone in the office, need to be particularly careful not to be drawn into malicious gossip.
You don't have to be confrontational when dealing with whiners. Don't disagree with the whiner's complaints, but simply suggest that they should be addressed to someone more appropriate. Remain neutral, detached and professional at all times.
Dealing with whiney coworkers can make admin assistants' roles much more stressful than usual. If you find yourself becoming worn-down, remember to take care of yourself by engaging in fun, relaxing activities outside of work. As an admin assistant, you work hard during the day, so it's important to be able to stop thinking about the office when you go home in the evening.
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