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Whingeing can do you good


It’s been well-documented that adopting a positive outlook on life is good for your mental wellbeing. It now appears that a whinge can do you wonders too. A study by the University of Melbourne has found that whingeing at work can have a beneficial effect on staff morale and bolster team bonding. According to the study abstract, the research helps “illustrate how those mundane, recurrent communicative activities, which may appear tangential to the task at hand, have important relational and emotional consequences for the functioning of cross-boundary teams.”

Observing the interactions of a group of doctors and nurses for 12 months, researcher Vanessa Pouthier found that whingeing around the water cooler helped work colleagues understand each other better and provide much-needed stress relief. A good moan at work can also help employees’ mental wellbeing by exorcising stress and frustration. Furthermore, in-jokes among colleagues can turn negative situations into humorous scenarios. “Try to see the funny side of things — which, generally speaking, is a pretty useful skill if you want to be happy at work,” says Dr Chris Colquhoun of NSW government workplace agency, icare.

Not only that, but whingeing and moaning and generally being grumpy in the office can increase your productivity. Tara McAuley, a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, explored whether our emotional reactivity shaped how mood influences the kinds of thinking we need to navigate the demands and stresses of the 9-5. Emotional reactivity refers to the sensitivity, intensity and duration of our emotional responses associated with our mood.

“Our results show that there are some people for whom a bad mood may actually hone the kind of thinking skills that are important for everyday life,” said McAuley. “We know that emotional reactivity differs from person to person starting at a very early age and that these individual differences have implications for mental health later in development.” However, McAuley is keen to stress “people shouldn’t interpret the results as saying it’s fine to fly off the handle or overreact, or to be grouchy.”

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