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* * *
Podcast 234: How To Deal
with Whiners and Complainers
In today’s podcast, we bring to life two of the earliest CBT
techniques I developed way back before I wrote Feeling Good:
The New Mood Therapy. The are:
- The Anti-Whiner Technique
- The Anti-Heckler Technique
they are both based in two of the Five Secrets of Effective
- The Disarming Technique: You find truth in what the other
person is saying
- Stroking: You find something positive to say to the person
- In addition, if appropriate you can include Feeling Empathy,
especially in the Anti-Whiner Technique. This means that you
acknowledge how the other person is feeling
Most of us know someone who tends to whine and complain a great
deal, and you might have noticed that when you try to help them,
cheer them up, or give them some advice, their whining and
complaining just escalates, so you end up secretly frustrated and
If you’re tired of this pattern, you might want to try the
Anti-Whiner Technique, which can be incredibly effective, but it’s
anti-intuitive. You simply agree with the person who’s complaining,
and give them a compliment.
Rhonda and David will illustrate this with complaints like
- Nobody cares about me!
- I never get to do what I want to do.
- Nobody likes me.
- I never get invited anywhere.
- I never get to do anything fun.
- I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to help.
- All the doctors just seem to care about themselves.
- Nobody listens to me!
- Life is unfair.
- People only care about themselves
- I have to do everything for myself. Nobody helps.
- I can’t hear very well, my sight is deteriorating, and I’ve got
hemorrhoids! What can I do? Preparation H doesn’t help at all!
- My students just don’t listen. This younger generation is
totally screwed up!
- Nothing helps! I’m depressed all the time. I’ve tried
- No one every said one kind thing to me!
- I’ve got so much to do, but I just can’t get started, and
everything just keeps piling up!
I love treating public speaking anxiety because I used to
struggle with this problem myself, but now I totally love public
speaking. One of the many reasons that people fear public speaking
is because they’re afraid someone in the audience will become
critical or hostile, or ask them something they can’t answer.
The Anti-Heckler Technique is fairly easy to use, and works like
a charm if done skillfully. It’s similar to the Anti-Whiner
Technique we just illustrated. Just make a list of hostile things
that the audience member from hell might say during your talk, or
during the Q and A period, and then respond with the Disarming
Technique plus Stroking.
Rhonda and I will illustrate this with these kinds of critical
- You’re full of shit and you know it!
- What you’re saying isn’t true and doesn’t make sense.
- You’re a total fraud and a fake.
- You're not supposed to say that.
- You talk too fast.
- You are confusing.
- You don't know what you're talking about.
- You are not following the outline you gave us.
- It's too cold, too hot.
- You're wrong about that.
- You are quoting outdated research that's been debunked
- I didn't like it when you made jokes.
- You don't know enough to teach this class.
- You're disorganized, incomprehensible, and boring.
- You always call on the same people in the audience, you play
Rhonda and David also explore why it is so hard to use these
techniques in our personal and professional relationships, and why
we lapse into adversarial defenses when we could collaborate with
others in the spirit of mutual exploration and learning.
Most of it has to do with the idea that we have a “self,” or
“ego” to defend!
As the Buddha so often said, “Selves are cheap. Selflessness is