Whining is incessant complaining over the same topic, repeatedly. In a sense, a person who feels compelled to whine about a particular topic is ‘stuck’ in that matter and unable (or unwilling) to move on. Whining becomes a way of coping with the matter. It is no fun being stuck in any form or manner and worst, when the matter plays over and over again in your head. This article gives great advice on how to help a whiner get un-stuck:
Go gently: Even therapists say this conversation sometimes ends with the client walking out. Start by telling the person who is whining how much you appreciate him or her.
Use a tone of genuine curiosity. You want to get to the bottom of the problem together. You may want to mirror the negative communication. ‘I don’t know if you hear yourself, but listen to what you just said.’
Point out there’s a pattern. Say, ‘Do you realize it’s the fifth night in a row you’ve talked about this?’ Offer to tape future conversations so the person can hear for him or herself.
Open up the conversation. A person whining about work may be feeling unwell, or stuck in his career. Ask, ‘Is there something else that’s wrong?’ Explain that it is hard for you to hear the real issue because the person’s tone and attitude are getting in the way.
Ask the person what he or she plans to do about the problem. Hold them accountable.
Suggest alternatives. The person might want to write down a list of complaints and leave it in a drawer. Or keep a journal and circle repeated complaints in red pen. Or spend an hour at the gym, or do something outdoors with you.
Set a time limit. For 10 minutes a day, the person can whine unfettered—and you will listen. Then time is up. Do this once a day, once a week—or challenge the person to a ‘whine-free day.’
Give positive reinforcement. Say, ‘I love to hear good things about your job.’ Praise each increment toward healthy communication.