Whining About Work Can Be Good for You, Research Says

Never let anyone tell you that your "negative vibe" is getting the office down ever again.
"Despairing office worker." Image via Shutterstock

This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.

Do your colleagues ever tire of your constant complaining about work? Is your "negative vibe" around the office getting people down?

Well, too bad for them. Science has shown that griping is actually good for office morale. New research from the University of Melbourne backs the idea that whining to colleagues not only lets staff work through their problems, it also helps them bond.


The research comes from Dr. Vanessa Pouthier, who embedded within a group of doctors and nurses a hospital oncology department in America's midwest. She attended 50 morning staff meetings, conducted two rounds of interviews with hospital staff, and found griping at work can be just as important for coping as joking around with colleagues.

According to Pouthier, whining isn't just about having a good vent. The important thing is for colleagues to empathize with you. These back-and-forths are referred to by Pouthier as rituals or "little ceremonies."

“One of the best things in the team I observed, was that these griping rituals helped doctors and nurses realize they were feeling the same way about situations, and they weren’t that different," Pouthier told Pursuit. "It allows people to recognize how similar they are in the challenges they’re facing every day and how they feel about them."

However, Pouthier also says there are important rules to keep productive griping from quickly devolving into full-on workplace bullying.

“You can only gripe about people that are not in the room, and you need to externalize the gripe," she explained. "The gripe’s target needs to be something everyone can agree on, like the structure in which the team is working, or difficult practitioners working in other services. Never individuals in the team."

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