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Dealing with the Negative Influencers (whiners)

I have written more than a few blog entries about attitude, about being positive and about the affect of negative people.

I think I must have been having a bad day back in March 2007 when I wrote about Miserable People ... but really I was just expressing opinions in my "out loud voice" instead of keeping them to myself! That's what blogs are about isn't it?

Even further back in July 2006 I wrote about Negative People and the affect they can have on your life ... and a few suggestions about what you might do.

Today I read one of my regular newsletters from Patricia Katz with some sage advice to managers about how to deal with these kinds of people in the workplace ... she refers to them as BMWs ... Bitchers, Whiners and Moaners (no offence to the venerable car company!)

The following is an excerpt from Patricia Katz's Pause Newsletter. You can subscribe to this weekly advice about how you might stay sane in this crazy world here ...


Nothing damages the morale of a workplace more than a collection of individuals whose response to every situation is to complain and criticize from the cozy confines of victimhood. "Isn't it awful? How dare they? What were they thinking? Someone should do something about this!"

A recent conference participant, in a session I was delivering on encouragement and appreciation in the workplace, described this group as her BMW's. Not the classic high priced automobile - but rather the folks who specialize in Bitching, Moaning, and Whining.

Her abbreviated description generated a considerable number of guffaws and knowing looks as other attendees nodded their heads in recognition. It seems the BMW problem is familiar to many. There might even be a few BMW's ripping up the streets in your world.


So what to do and how to handle them? Here is a four level response you might find useful.

1. Consider whether you might be an unintentional accomplice who encourages BMW behavior. Pay attention to how often you commiserate or provide a forum (a willing ear and shoulder) for tired old complaints.
2. Determine if there's a legitimate concern at the root of the BMW response. If there is, engage the individual in action that works to resolve the issue.
3. Notice if BMW behavior has simply become an habitual response. If that's the case, make the person aware of the situation. Try your hand at coaching a turn-around that steers the individual towards a more positive response.
4. Identify the business consequences and collateral damage to the team that flow from BMW negativity. Position the snide asides as the performance problems that they are. Lay out clear expectations for change and potential consequences if the BMW behavior continues.

Each of us has a right to our own thoughts - both negative and positive. We also have a choice about what we decide to express. That expression carries with it a responsibility for the impact of our words and actions. Make it clear that BMWs should be parked outside and are not welcome in your workplace.

PS - If the BMW's in your life are spewing a black cloud over your family or community group, similar rules of the road apply.