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Humans love to complain to each other. It helps us feel less alone. Think about what happens when a family member or friend is going through a tough time; they call up someone who will listen to their tale of woe. Unfortunately, negative bonding is the default for many groups. In some families complaining is the only way to get attention. When one person says, I had a bad day; the other person has to top it. “You think you had a tough day, I had to do three reports on software updates!” The same thing happens at work and social settings. “Your child didn’t sleep through the night until six months? Mine was a full year old before she went over six hours.” It’s a race to the bottom, the worst situation wins. In Bitching is Bonding, A Guide to Mutual Complaint, professor of psychiatry, Irene S. Levine says: “The reason these conversations feel good is because we feel understood.” People raised in negative environments learn early on that being positive gets you thrown out of the club. When family dinner is a complaint fest, you’re not going to risk alienation saying: “Wow, I had an awesome day, don’t you just love life?” Translate this into a work setting and people, often unconsciously, believe being positive keeps you out of the cool club. When negativity provides bonding, humans are reluctant to abandon the behaviour that brings them comfort.