Have you ever had a moment of realization that all you’ve been doing lately is complaining? It can happen to the best of us. With blatant disregard for schedules, increasing incivility as the norm, and an ever-multiplying pile of work on our plates, it’s no surprise. Seems there’s plenty to complain about.
So how are your complaints received? In most cases, I’m guessing your answer is “not so well.”
Here’s another idea. See if you can find a request in your complaint—and get curious. Instead of complaining about Amber’s perpetual tardiness and Jason’s curt tone in meetings, try these two tactics.
- Find the request in your complaint. Decide what would make the situation better and ask for it. Make the request. This is the most straightforward and emotionally intelligent tactic. And you’ll be surprised how effective it is! (e.g., Instead of complaining to whomever will listen that Amber is always late, you say directly, “Amber, your tardiness upsets the team’s workflow. Would you please be more conscientious about our starting time?” She replies, “Oh, I apologize. Sometimes I get so caught up in my kids’ last-minute needs, I forget that you are counting on me to …”)
- Get curious. See what you can uncover about the offender. You may find legitimate circumstances contributing to the offensive behavior. And you may find you have more in common than you ever imagined. While that doesn’t excuse the behavior, it can help you develop a better relationship so you can talk reasonably about the behavior and make the request described in Tactic #1. These relationships create long-term benefits when you have ongoing collaborations.
What’s so bad about complaining? Plenty. It derails progress, creates negativity, and amplifies the annoyance and destructive feelings already present. It improves nothing.
You may be surprised how pervasive complaining is in our culture. When legendary Executive Coach Marshall Goldsmith interviewed more than 200 of his clients, he discovered something that matched previous research he had read but still found hard to believe: “a majority of employees spend 10 or more hours per month complaining—or listening to others complain. Even more amazing, almost a third spend 20 hours or more per month doing so.”
Just think what could be possible if that time was shifted to actively asking for what you need and building relationships. A lot more positivity and progress would be possible—and isn’t that what we strive for?
If you’re looking to create a more positive culture in your work environment, call 541.601.0114 or email Chris for an initial conversation. Let’s tap into your organization’s positivity and unleash its potential.
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