How Whingeing Undermines Emotional Intelligence

Posted on: March 12th, 2019 by Pat Mesiti No Comments

I love it – a new study has taken a detailed look at the personality of whingers compared to the personality of happy-go-lucky types. Do you know any whingers? Sometimes they are called high-maintenance. Nothing is ever quite right for them and everything is difficult and complicated. Their coffee isn’t hot enough, they have a plethora of allergies, and they are plagued by bad luck. The study was carried out by 

PsychTests, established in 1996, is a provider of psychological assessment tests to human resource departments, therapists, academics and researchers. It is run by psychologists, test developers, statisticians, writers, and IT experts. 

PsychTests collected data from over 12,000 people who took their Emotional Intelligence Test. PsychTests researchers then selected a sample of 200 participants, half were happy-go-lucky while the other half had a tendency to complain about issues that most people would dismiss. This included issues like dealing with bad weather, waiting at the doctor’s office, and being behind a customer in the express line with 13 items instead of the designated eight. The PsychTest researchers then compared the two groups of participants on multiple emotional intelligence competencies. Average scores on the competencies range from 0 to 100. The higher the score the more emotionally intelligent you are. Here are the results:


Score for whiners: 50

Score for non-whiners: 68


Score for whiners: 58

Score for non-whiners: 77

Conflict resolution

Score for whiners: 44

Score for non-whiners: 76

Flexibility (ability to cope with change; willingness to compromise)

Score for whiners: 54

Score for non-whiners: 71


Score for whiners: 59

Score for non-whiners: 72

Coping skills

Score for whiners: 57

Score for non-whiners: 69

Ability to adapt to different social situations

Score for whiners: 52

Score for non-whiners: 75

Ability to pick up on social cues

Score for whiners: 52

Score for non-whiners: 72

Ability to read body language

Score for whiners: 64

Score for non-whiners: 75

Willingness to stand by one's values

Score for whiners: 59

Score for non-whiners: 72

The PsychTest study also found that chronic complainers are:

  • less self-aware and not very open to learning new things
  • less self-confident, self-motivated, and goal-oriented
  • more likely to struggle to identify, connect with, and reflect on their emotions
  • more likely to have trouble regulating their emotions
  • more pessimistic
  • more likely to desire approval and validation from others
  • more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives

President of PsychTests, Dr Ilona Jerabek, said the average score on the emotional intelligence test for the happy-go-lucky group was 113, while the average score on the test for whingers was 85. That is a big difference.

The research shows that whingers are unable to deal with daily annoyances, their emotions, other people’s emotions, social situations, and life’s challenges.

Dr Jerabek said that obsessing about misfortunes is clearly linked to some very unhealthy thinking patterns. 

“We need to be able to let go of the things that we can't change or control, especially if they are temporary situations,” he said. “While a traffic jam or a crying baby on a flight can be frustrating, for example, getting stressed or upset about it will do nothing to help the situation, and will only make you feel worse.”

This study is interesting because it once again illustrates the dangers of negative thinking. People who dwell on annoyances think themselves into a downward spiral until they have a pessimistic attitude to every aspect of their life. On the other hand people who don’t sweat the small stuff become more resilient and emotionally healthier across the board.

If you are struggling to let go of some small grievances, here are some tips that may help you.

Try not to complain

Basically you need to have self-discipline and a stiff-upper a lip. Instead of complaining, try to make the best of it. Force a smile, think of how the situation could be so much worse.

Don’t turn molehills into mountains

Try to get a bit of perspective and see the situation for the trifle it is. Will this matter to you next week, next year, in five years or ten years? Or is it something you can leave behind you today? If yes, then leave it behind you today!

Be kind

Okay, your waitress was rude, the receptionist ignored you and the airline staff lost your luggage. You know what – all the people involved in these mishaps are human … only human. 

Perhaps these people are having a difficult time in their lives – a friend might have died, their marriage is in crisis and they have financial pressures. Instead of ranting and raving about what happened to you, be kind and have some compassion. We all make mistakes and forgiving another is an act of grace. You might be amazed how good you feel if you simply say, don’t worry about it!

Don’t ask too much of others

Sometimes perfectionists are whingers. They demand a great deal of themselves and they demand a great deal of other people. Inevitably they end up disappointed. Not everyone is like you. People have different skills and abilities. Many people are disorganised and ineffectual but they may also be loving parents, talented musicians, and amazing painters. Just don’t expect other people to be carbon copies of you. 

If you fear that you are a bit of a whinger, I have one more challenge for you. Do you remember that song from the Disney movie, ‘Frozen’? Well, I want you to play it full blast and sing along – here is the chorus to get you started. 

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don't care what they're going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

Let it go (go, go, go go, go go, go go, go, go, go go)


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Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.


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