Are You a Complainer or an Agent of Change?
Nobody likes a complainer. We all know people who can’t open their mouth without something negative spewing out. Chronic complainers find fault with everything. You give them a free meal and they don’t like the food. They go on a beach vacation and complain about the heat.
Every situation presents an opportunity for them to find fault. Nothing is ever good enough and the most mundane act can send them into a tailspin. Complainers are mentally draining to be around because they suck the joy out of life because of their continual cycle of finding fault.
A 2016 study by Stanford researchers have also found that complaining shrinks your hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that is critical to problem solving. Complaining also releases cortisol, the stress hormone, which raises your blood pressure and blood sugar. Frequent complaining can lead to heart disease and diabetes. But perhaps the more immediate impact of complaining is that it erodes relationships.
So, we get it. We get it. It’s unhealthy to complain and it erodes relationships.
But there’s one positive thing about complaints – they make things happen. The squeaky wheel does get the grease and complaints drive change.
Companies monitor complaints so they can implement new policies and increase customer satisfaction. Complaints are responsible for new legislation. After the election, complaints were non-stop. Many people with divergent opinions were saying, “Enough already. Just get over it.”
But if you don’t speak up, change wouldn’t occur. And those groups and individuals who remain silent live without what they need or want.
The type of complaining that creates change is action-oriented complaining. When there are issues that impact our life and career, we should stand up and say something about it. Issues are rarely resolved if you don’t shed light on them.
Rebellion is necessary at times. It is an important part of becoming a free civilization. The issue with complaining comes with how we complain and when we complain.
Good: Being self-confident and firm enough in such a way to help effect constructive change. When you complain, take responsibility for what you are trying to change. Work towards making a positive contribution to the situation.
Bad: Complaining to hear your own voice without making any positive contribution to a situation.
Good: Being objective and taking the feelings of others into account
Bad: Complaining because of your own worry and your own feelings without regard to how others are impacted. Contributing to negativity in your life and being a victim instead of a victor.
Good: Complaining to the right person who can actually solve your issues.
Bad: Complaining to whoever will listen. If your boss is a pain in the rear, complaining to your friends or co-workers might help you vent but it does nothing to solve the problem.
Good: Look at yourself first to see if you’ve contributed to the situation. To what extent are you a part of the problem?
Bad: Blaming others.
Good: Searching for solutions. And, it’s okay if you alone do not have a solution. Work with others to develop one.
Bad: Searching for fault.
Good: Complaining at the right time.
Bad: Not being aware that there is a time and place to use your voice. Complaining to co-workers at lunch will most likely not change anything. They’ll only see you as the negative person who complains.
Good: Know the purpose of your complaint. Is there a real issue you can solve?
Bad: Regular complaining about issues that face everyone such as the morning traffic in your commute. You are particularly draining when you complain non-stop about situations we all face. Regular complaining about issues that everyone faces gets you nowhere. Are your experiences so much worse than others? Probably not.
And, we all complain. I’ve yet to meet a perfect person. Some people simply do it more frequently than others. If you’re constantly voicing displeasure, discontent, bitterness and negativity about life, versus being happy and trying to create a positive life and positive life change, you might be a chronic complainer.
Whatever the reason, remember that it’s not what you do, but how you do complain that counts.
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Johnston Osburn is a Career and Life Coach who helps people turn dreams into realities. After years as a Global Talent Acquisition Professional, she realized how frequently people limit themselves because they lack belief in their abilities. They are afraid to dream, let alone dream big. [...]