Stop “kvetching” already

by | April 9, 2012

Been around people who just love to complain and you just want to get as far away from them as possible? Or are you that person? Here’s some advice on how to lessen it.


BY: Sunie Levin


Kvetch (complain) and you’ll lose your friends. Charlie is a constant complainer. You know the type. Oh boy, do you know! He’s the type of guy that people of a certain age used to refer to as enjoying ill-health. With Charlie, it’s always something. “I have this pain in my neck, or I have an allergy to dust, or I have this sore throat I can’t seem to get rid of.” Always something.

He thinks by constantly complaining, people will have sympathy for him. Well, it doesn’t work that way. They don’t. They resent the constant daily whining. Nobody wants to be around him. Who needs it? People have their own health problems; they really don’t want to hear about anybody else’s. When they see Charlie at a party, they try to avoid him. Even his wife rolls her eyes when he starts with his list of complaints. What’s the point of kvetching anyway? It doesn’t make the problem go away.

When you meet Alice with a constant ‘organ recital’, you try to run in the opposite direction if you can get away fast enough. Alice has never had a meal that she hasn’t complained about or sent back. She complains that no one calls her. Big surprise. Who wants to listen to her? It is easier to write her an e-mail. You can delete it if you don’t want to read her reply. Her husband gives her 10 minutes to listen to her groaning about her annoyances, then he takes out his hearing aid and smiles at her.


It is a condition, really!

Psychologists call it “chronic kvetching syndrome”. They really do. It is a condition marked by constant complaints to anyone who will listen about anything and everything that comes into the kvetcher’s mind.  

There is difference between kvetching and voicing a complaint to bring about a solution. If you complain to your teenager about his messy room, you are attempting to bring about a solution. Sometimes you simply need to get something off your chest. The other side is the chronic complainer. Someone who constantly complains about being so busy, not having enough time and my toe is sore, etc. That type loves to talk, but rarely will listen to you.

Some people talk to their hairstylist and moan about all their perceived annoyances. At least the stylist gets paid for listening. Some people strike up a conversation with perfect strangers to complain about the weather and what a terrible day they have had. Even if they have a nice day, it doesn’t stop them from complaining anyway.


Let’s alleviate it

When you see someone you often say ‘how are you’ or ‘how have you been?’ Most of the time, you really don’t want to know. It is a rhetorical question. So what makes you think other people want to hear your kvetches? So what about you? Yes, you. When you start to kvetch, stop. Nobody wants to hear it. After all, you’re trying to make friends, not drive them away. 

My grandfather who took shots everyday for diabetes had many health problems. When you asked him how he was, he would smile, with a twinkle in his eye and say, “not so bad”. Not a bad answer. I’m in a bridge group, which has a strict rule. When we sit down at the table, talking about ailments or doctors is off limits after the first five minutes and it works! After the five minutes, we talk about movies or books, we gossip about anything else. Believe me, any conversation is better than hearing an ongoing kvetching of aches and pains.

So what can alleviate kvetching?          

  • If you feel like kvetching. Say or think “hmmm”, put a smile on your face and talk about the weather, or if you dare politics.
  • When good friends complain constantly, try changing the subject. Hopefully they will get the picture. If not, try listening and saying, “I don’t know how you deal with all your problems”. You might get the response that it’s not so bad. It works sometimes.

You get the picture. So stop kvetching and enjoy each day. By the way, if you have ideas that may change the complainers, please share them. So far I haven’t found any that constantly work. The trick is, when you’re tempted to kvetch, think to yourself, would I really want to hear all this?


Sunie Levin is the US author of “Make New Friends … Live Longer”. She founded the Midwest Reading and Dyslexia Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri, US, for children and adults with learning problems. A popular lecturer, Levin, who is 81, taught University classes and has conducted workshops and seminars throughout the country. She has appeared on local and national TV and was a syndicated columnist for many newspapers. Her blog site is at




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