1) Get away from them. Move your desk and if possible, change your office. Just the geographic change can make a significant difference. Most of the time, whiners vent on who’s nearby, so don’t be an easy target.
2) Switch the conversation. Ask them opposite questions, like, What’s working? What’s going well? Turn the talk to good things about the company or project, and you can often derail the whiner.
3) Put them on the spot. Ask them what they intend to do about the problem. Don’t be a jerk, but be direct. Agree with them that what they’re whining about is a real problem, but something has to be done. What do they suggest? That’s usually enough to stop the whiner in his or her tracks.
4) Let them know you’re not interested. Once they hit a brick wall enough times, they’ll look for someone else. So if nothing else works, get in their face. Again, don’t be rude, but be honest. Tell them you don’t think being negative will solve the problem, and when they have another idea, then you’ll listen.
5) Leaders: Consider scheduling times to vent.