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Winning Over Whining Transcript

WGN -TV, July 13, 2012

David Cunningham, Interviewed by Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten


David Cunningham WGN

Larry Potash:

Do you remember the Whiners, Doug and Wendy, from Saturday Night Live in the ‘80s.  Well, a study in 2011 showed whining in the most annoying noise ever.  It distracted people and caused them to make mistakes.

Experts say whining brings down the mood of everyone within earshot.  It masks a deeper, more vulnerable emotion, and --

Robin Baumgarten:

Are you gonna let me read any of these, Larry?

Larry Potash:

Would you shut up [Laughter]?  And keeps people stuck in their problem rather than working to identify a solution 

Robin Baumgarten:

I wonder why you gave me this slide.  A lot of whiners don’t know that they whine.  But experts say more whining isn’t going to help.  So what do we do?  Here with ways on how to get to the root of the problem is David Cunningham, a communication expert, with Landmark Education.  Thanks for being here.

Larry Potash:

Hi, David.

David Cunningham:

Good morning.

Robin Baumgarten:

So maybe you don’t think you’re a whiner.  You just maybe talk in a tone of voice that annoys people.  Is that a possibility?

David Cunningham:

That’s sure possible, but it works to pay attention to what is it you’re actually saying.  And some of the words you use definitely turn into whining.

Larry Potash:

So let’s say it’s your spouse who’s whining.  Is the tactic to simply ignore what they’re whining about or to address it and say hey, here’s a pattern of what you’ve been whining about?

David Cunningham:

Well, it’s both things.  One is the mistake most of us make is we think we have to respond to everybody’s whining when we really don’t.  That usually turns into an argument.  It works to be like a bullfighter.  You know, a bullfighter doesn’t fight the bull.  You just step out of the way and let it go by [Laughter].  So that really works.

Robin Baumgarten:

So you’re telling -- I mean, does this apply to children too?  When you hear the whining, you just listen to it and let ‘em go?

David Cunningham:

You just let it go by.  And you --

Robin Baumgarten:

It’s easier said than done.

David Cunningham:

Well, if they keep bringing up the same thing over and over again, now, sometimes what works is to say you know what?  You’ve said that several times now.  And then point out that must be important to you.  That must matter to you.  And then ask them a really important question.  What do you think you could do about that?  And that takes their whining and turns it into action.

Larry Potash:

So you talk about a whine list.  That might be one of the things to say --

Robin Baumgarten:

I love a whine list [Laughter].

Larry Potash:

-- what do you think you can do about that?

David Cunningham:

Right.

Larry Potash:

What are some other, you know, mechanisms that can help a whiner stop themselves before they start?

David Cunningham:

Well, the first thing is to ask yourself why is this important to me in the first place?  Whatever I’m whining about, there must be something really important to me.

Larry Potash:

Something different than what they’re whining about?

David Cunningham:

Yeah.  Like let’s suppose you’re complaining that your coworker doesn’t talk to you or doesn’t cooperate with you.  Then what must be important to you is [laughter] teamwork or partnership.  So if you shift your attention from what you’re complaining about to what’s important to you and take action with that, that leave you productive and brings up the mood.

Robin Baumgarten:

You also say it’s good to set ten minutes a day aside to vent so you won’t do this.  And then you also should ask yourself would I want to hang out with this person [Laughter]?

David Cunningham:

Yeah.  Would you want to hang out with yourself?

Robin Baumgarten:

How about you [Laughter]?

Larry Potash:

I’m forced to [Laughter].

Robin Baumgarten:

____ by choice.  Do you see how he gets my ____ twisted – grrr!

David Cunningham:

Oh, yeah, I see it.

Robin Baumgarten:

They make these -- ugh.  So whining is more about just tone of voice, it’s what you’re actually saying?  You should pay attention?

David Cunningham

It’s what you’re saying.  Right.  And if you really need to, just say good, give me ten minutes to say everything, and then you tell the person you don't have to respond, and I’m not blaming it -- I just want you to listen.  And if somebody just listens to you for ten minutes, it really either disappears or it gets clear for you what you want to do about it.

Robin Baumgarten:

Just listen for ten minutes.  That’s it.

Larry Potash:

If you’d stop talking for ten minutes [laughter], I’d be happy to listen to you.  Be quiet [Laughter].  On a more serious note, do you think that visiting with a psychologist is helpful for that kind of issue?

David Cunningham:

Sometimes.  If it’s something that you just can’t deal with yourself.  But again, if you -- you know, one percent of the quality of our life comes from the circumstances.  Ninety-nine percent comes from how we react to them.

Robin Baumgarten:

Yes.

David Cunningham:

And if we turn our whining into action, we really start winning in life.

Robin Baumgarten:

No whining.  Winning, Larry.  No whining.  Winning.

Larry Potash:

So what he’s saying is shut up and do your job [Laughter].

 

Robin Baumgarten:

Just listen, I think, is what he’s saying.  Listen.

Larry Potash:

Could you stick around [Laughter]?

David Cunningham:

Sure.

Larry Potash:

You don’t have to go back to Philadelphia any time soon.

David Cunningham:

No.