How Venting Undermines Your Career

New research suggests keeping those less-than-constructive comments to yourself.

Venting about work may have a serious consequence aside from your boss catching wind of what you said. New research in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology finds that complaining may make you less engaged in your job.

As Science of Us explains, researchers found that employees who complained felt less engaged and proud of the work they did that day than non-complainers, and interestingly, they still felt those effects the day after, reporting worse moods the following morning.

The study authors asked a group of employed volunteers to journal about their mood and work engagement for three days. They wrote twice a day, once in the morning on their mood and how well they’d slept, and again at the end of the work day. For the second entry, participants wrote about something negative that happened at work, how they felt right at that moment and rated how strongly they agreed with statements like “Today, I felt proud of the work I did” or “Today I spent a lot of time complaining about trivial things at work.”

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There was a notable difference in attitude and engagement between the “good sports” and the “chronic complainers,” as Science of Us dubs them. Unlike the complainers, good sports seemed to have something of a buffer against bad events at work, even those they rated as “severe” — neither their mood or engagement were impacted the day of or the day after.

If you can’t imagine work life without a vent session or two, there’s some positive news: As Science of Us says, if you’re a chronic (or even a casual) complainer, the answer isn’t to stifle all of your work concerns and hope for the best. To be engaged and proud of your work, it’s important to find a healthy balance: Seek outlets to give feedback on things that aren’t quite working at work, and perhaps keep the less constructive remarks to yourself.

Read more on Science of Us.