The truth is nobody likes a ‘complainer’ yet everyone complains,even those of us that know better. The truth is that complaints steal energy and pollute the space —complaints bring discord and are unproductive. However, there is a way to manage complaining so that it is responsible and has the possibility of being productive.
Usually a complaint is done as a ‘dump’ of adverse information, such as so and so did this, this and this…can you believe that??? Then the complainer enrolls their listeners into the energy of the complaint, and everybody walks away from the exchange feeling yucky—meanwhile NOTHING gets resolved. These are uncommitted complaints and it’s just another version of the ‘blame game’ which is to say that everything is someone else’s fault.
The first step in getting people to stop complaining is to lead them into complaining responsibly so that they are not just dumping toxic negativity into the workplace with no resolve. Responsible complaining is registering a complaint with a promise or a request at the end of it. The format for this includes being transparent about the fact that you are complaining as often people disguise complaints as ‘conversation’.
It goes something like this:
“I complain that there is never fresh coffee in the break room”
And then it follows with a REQUEST or a PROMISE—such as
“and I request that when you pour the last of the coffee into your cup you start a new pot” OR “and I promise to be the one that makes a fresh pot of coffee when I see that it is needed”.
Complaining in this way makes it conscious for both the complainer and the listener—everyone is aware that they are hearing a complaint and by ending it with a promise or a request there is closure/resolve to it which prevents it from being toxic to the environment.
Interestingly enough when you lead people to complain within this format, they get to see just how often they are complaining-which is usually much more frequently than they imagined.