By Trevor Blake

Part one of this two-part post discussed how chronic exposure to negative messages from complainers will reinforce negative thinking and behavior. Two ways to defend yourself against workplace complaints – both yours and others’ – were offered. The remainder is presented in the conclusion of this article.

*Smother a negative thought with a positive image. If a negative thought pops into your mind, immediately input a different image. This is the process of “neurogenesis” – creating new pathways in your brain that lead to positive behaviors. If your inbox is filled with urgent to-dos and you think to yourself, “I’m already exhausted,” immediately conjure up a pleasant image, say, an after-work run in the park with your dog.

*Don’t try to convert others. When trapped in a toxic group of complainers at a meeting or around the water cooler, simply choose silence. Let their words bounce off you and not penetrate your mind while you think of something pleasant. If you try to stop them, you may end up alienating yourself and becoming a target.

*Distance yourself when possible. When co-workers start criticizing someone or something and you can escape – excuse yourself and take a break somewhere quiet – perhaps outside in the fresh air. Think of something pleasant before returning. You have to take this seriously, because negative people can and will pull you into the quicksand.

*Create a private retreat. Mentally retreat to a private, special place in your imagination. Visualize a peaceful setting in your mind – perhaps a sailboat on a lake. When you’re stuck with a co-worker who is spewing scathing complaints against someone, you can appear as if you’re listening while you distract your mind with a visit to your peaceful place.

*Transfer responsibility. On those occasions when you’re pressed against a wall while someone rants and raves about all the injustices in their life, throw the responsibility back at them by saying, “So what do you intend to do about it?” In most cases, complainers don’t want a solution nor do they want sympathy. They simply want to vent, and this tactic will stop them in their tracks.

*Forgive your lapses. Everyone complains sometimes. Your favorite team loses. Your computer crashes. Deadlines pile up. It’s human to vent once in a while. Be kind to yourself after a lapse into victimhood – and then start anew. The less frequently you complain, the more time will pass between lapses into negativity. This is how rewiring the brain works.

Trevor Blake is a highly successful entrepreneur and author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life. For more information, visit