Complaining: The Cheapest Coin in the Realm
“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining; it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” ~Zig Ziglar
Every team I know has got a complainer. You know, the guy or gal who can always find the cloud in any silver lining.
It’s like Taylor Swift sings, “haters gonna’ hate, hate, hate.”
Whether it’s a family or a company, everyone works with or knows someone who gets juice from complaining.
I’m not talking an occasional ailment or disappointment, we all do that.
I’m talking about the person you’re afraid to ask “How are you?” because they will tell you, and it won’t be uplifting.
I’m talking about the person who may do their job well enough, but who does not add value to the team.
These are the chronic complainers: they mind other people’s business; they notice every small slight; they keep score; they suck the energy out of the room.
Chronic complainers complain, primarily, for three reasons. Understanding those reasons can help you deal with them more effectively.
- They have been taught it through immersion in a culture of complaining; they watched their parents or friends or colleagues do it.
- They want to connect; there’s a reason people gather around the water cooler and talk smack, they long for attention and inclusion.
- They get short-term sympathy, the cheapest form of approval, oblivious to the longer-term cost of avoidance.
At some level, rather than being annoyed with them, perhaps you might take pity on them. Complainers complain because it’s the only currency they have to purchase connection.
If you have a complainer in your life you must interact with on a regular basis, try the following experiment.
For one week, at every opportunity that feels natural and authentic (um, you might have to fake it a little at the start), take a moment to acknowledge something positive about the complainer. Help them change their focus. Anything will do: “you look nice today” is a good start. “Nice job.” “Well done.” Any form of acknowledgement is like sunshine and water to them.
People bloom in a soil of appreciation. Complainers take a little extra time, perhaps, but the effort is worth the return.
Not only will their complaining diminish, so will your annoyance.
“Remember, you and you alone are responsible for maintaining your energy. Give up blaming, complaining and excuse making.” ~Jack Canfield