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Complaining Is Bad for Your Company, According to Science

We’re all guilty of complaining from time-to-time. And, in some situations, that’s not a bad thing.

“Complaining allows us to achieve desired outcomes such as sympathy and attention,” says Robin Kowalski, a psychology professor at Clemson University. “The truth is, everybody does it.”

But, the constant complaining. No one wants to hear it. And, more importantly, it can damage you personally and professionally.

Complaining can literally kill you.

Steven Parton, an author and student of human nature, states on Psch Pedia that complaining alters your brain for the worse. It also has serious negative repercussions both your mental and physical health. In fact, the repercussions can be so  severe that it could kill you.

Synapses that Fire Together Wire Together

“Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse. Thus it is building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about.”

In other words, having repeated negative thoughts makes it easier to have more negative thoughts. It also makes it more likely that you’ll experience more random negative thoughts.

It’s Contagious

“When we see someone experiencing an emotion ( be it anger, sadness, happiness, etc), our brain “tries out” that same emotion to imagine what the other person is going through. It does this by attempting to fire the same synapses in your own brain so that you can attempt to relate to the emotion you’re observing.”

This is empathy. It’s how we get the mob mentality. It is our shared bliss at music festivals,” Parton writes. “But it is also your night at the bar with your friends who love love love to constantly bitch.”

If you want to strengthen your capacity for positivity and weaken your reflex for gloom, “surround yourself with happy people who rewire your brain towards love.”

Your Brain on Negativity

Research has found that an half hour of complaining daily physically damages a person’s brain. This is because it shrinks the hippocampus. The hippocampus is an area of the brain helps with problem solving and intelligent thought.

Damaging this area shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s one of the primary brain areas that’s destroyed by Alzheimer’s.

Stress Kills

“You see, the thing about all this negativity, of regretting, of attachment to desires, of pointless complaining about impermanent things that will always continue to pass in an existence where time moves forward — the thing is: it all causes stress.”

“When your brain is firing off these synapses of anger, you’re weakening your immune system; you’re raising your blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and a plethora of other negative ailments,” explains Parton

“The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. The list goes on and on.”

“Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.”

The Effects of Complaining in the Workplace

Now that you realize how complaining is terrible for your personally, here’s a look at how detrimental it is for your business.

Makes Things Appear Worse  

As a business owner, you need to accept and embrace failure. The reason? You’re going to fail at some point.

When you constantly complain, however, it’s tougher to overcome those shortcomings and failures. As everyone else has moved on, you’re stuck in the moment. This will hold you back from reaching your full potential.

You overthink, overanalyze, and question every move you make. That’s not the best course of action to take as a business owner. You have to take risks and make important decisions on the fly.

Stifles Creativity and Motivation

“A persistent negative attitude in the workplace stifles creativity,” writes George N. Root III. “When negativity takes over, people tend to stay with proven methods for fear that something new may not be effective.”

“A negative atmosphere counteracts the feeling of innovation that can help a company to create new products or develop more efficient ways of doing business.

When the workplace becomes antagonistic in nature, people do not feel the need to share ideas with each other. New ideas are not circulated, and the company does not move forward.”

Negativity can also lead to feelings of mistrust or a lack of confidence in management when developing employees. “Employees no longer buy into the company vision and lose motivation,” states Root.

“Morale begins to drop, and the company may experience employee turnover as a result. A feeling can persist that advancement in the company is no longer a worthwhile endeavor, and employees begin to lose interest in developing their skill set.

“An unmotivated workforce gives your competition the chance to take the lead in market share and costs your company revenue.”

Breaks Down Communication

“Communication breaks down in an unenthusiastic workplace,” adds Root. “Staff members have either had run-ins with each other over issues involving negative communication and no longer speak to each other, or the air of negativity causes employees to no longer trust the information that others provide.”

“Arrogance can be part of a negative work environment, and that can lead people to believe that their answer is the only correct one. They disregard all other input as invalid, and communication throughout the entire company erodes.”

Fractures Teamwork

When you’re a negative leader, there’s a good chance that you team will turn against you. Your team will then “form their own sub-team to support one another and to drive out or expose the leader,” writes Dr. Annette Roter.

“Teamwork efforts are futile, as members of the team either fight to support the negative leader or to flush the leader out.”

In other situations, complaining is a form of gossip. After all, there’s a difference between venting frustrations and whining about things you have no control over.

For example, employees shouldn’t microwave seafood in the office. On the other hand, making statements about someone’s appearance crosses the line.

“Gossip can have many adverse side effects on an organization,” writes Mary Abbajay. “It can increase conflict and decrease morale. It results in strained relationships.”

Gossip also “breaks down the trust level within the group.”

Kills Your Reputation

Finally, frequent complaining can harm your business’s reputation.

For starters, people will believe that you’re unproductive. After all, how can you get things accomplished when you’re always whining?

Additionally, constant complaining will make others assume that you talk about them behind their backs. And, can you blame them? If you’re talking smack on others, why wouldn’t you do the same about your customers or employees?

Complaining also makes it more difficult for others to take your opinions seriously or handle responsibility. They may also believe that you can’t cope with change. Even worse, whining 24/7 makes people want to distance themselves from you.


There will be times when you’re going to complain. It’s natural. And, it can be beneficial.

For example, instead of complaining just to complain, look for ways to solve a problem. More importantly, you need to train your brain to become more positive.

This can be accomplished by using techniques like observing your thoughts, reflecting on daily positives, and helping others.

Other suggestions would be to surround yourself with people who are positive and taking care of yourself mentally and physically.

Freelance Writer at Due
Albert Costill graduated from Rowan University with a History degree. He has been a senior finance writer for Due since 2015. His financial advice has been featured in Money Magazine, Fool, The Street, Forbes, CNBC and MarketWatch. He loves to give personal finance advice to millennials.

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