I aim to see the good or at least harmless intent behind other people’s behavior and I’ve been focusing this week on not being annoyed by people complaining. So I think there are good reasons that inspire people to complain or that are at least neutral.
The point of small talk is to slowly build trust with someone who doesn’t really matter. That’s why I hate small talk. And to make matters more negative, it’s easier to build agreement on negative things. Little complaints like traffic, hipsters, the weather, it’s safer to say what you dislike rather than what you do enjoy because someone might disagree or simply not enjoy it as much.
This causes people to complain casually about things they’re not really bothered by just so you’ll agree. It’s tedious as fuck but it doesn’t make them a bad person.
We all know what this is like and it’s best not to try to help or give advice, just let people vent. We all need it sometimes.
Wanting to be appreciated
Working hard feels pretty good if you know someone is going to know and remember that you did it. So often I’ll hear someone who’s half complaining half bragging (I know we’re all thinking of the term bragplaining now. You’re welcome) and I try to let them get it off their chest. It’s not always easy because I hate bragging more than complaining and think there’s never an acceptable reason for it.
Sometimes people really are in despair and every mental road they go down feels like a dead end. Anything you suggest they “yeah but then…” and bring up another problem. I try to remember that they’re not putting up roadblocks because they want to feel sorry for themselves they really are spiraling. I focus on not downplaying their seriousness. If someone is upset about something I think is trivial I’ll start by agreeing with them and slowly shifting their perspective. You can’t help someone by implying they’re stupid for feeling strongly about something.
And yeah sometimes people are just being shitty and blathering about problems they’re not trying to fix because self involved and think you must always care what they’re thinking about. But not always.