Message To Complainers – Stop, You Are Ruining My Health!

Your complaining is bad for my health – and science is beginning to prove it. According to a recent study, complainers can cause harmful physical reactions among others, in a sort of “second-hand-smoke” way. The researchers, who used another word commonly associated with incessant complaining (the “B” word), set out to measure the second hand effects of b****ing in their study.

The researchers defined several types of complaining. Overt complaining is the general sort of griping that is easily recognized by all. Covert complaining is more subtle – like when someone announces ominously to others that he or she “has a few concerns to air” under the pretext of being polite. There is also anticipatory complaining (“You’re going to make me crazy!”), post hoc complaining (“Why on earth did you do it that way?”) or, in the case of individuals who simply can’t stop themselves from bellyaching, chronic complaining.

In the experiment, the test subjects were exposed to controlled amounts of complaining from various people who volleyed their complaints in pre-planned ways (in meetings, email messages, social media, etc.) at pre-determined intervals. The impact of exposure to complaints was assessed by taking periodic blood pressure readings and cortisol measurements from each subject at the beginning and end of each day.

Analysis of the data from the daily complaint inventories revealed a significant positive correlation between overall “bitchiness” and blood pressure levels.

What was most striking about the results of the study, however, was the finding that second-hand complaining was even more harmful to the test subjects than their own self-generated whining. Hearing people complain during staff meetings and reading bitchy e-mails resulted in significantly higher blood pressure reading and abnormally elevated cortisol levels. We all know the dangers of high blood pressure. But elevated cortisol levels are equally as bad. Over time, these have been shown to have numerous negative effects, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
  • Decreased bone density
  • Decrease in muscle tissue
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences

Yikes!  I guess this is a strong testimonial for the return of civility to the workplace. What do you think? What second hand effects have you experienced from chronic complainers?

Click here for more research on this study.

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