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You see and hear (and maybe even make) lots of complaints.

You spend an incredibly large percentage of your day at work. On top of that, the general tone of the day carries over to your personal life. When the day is full of complaints, whether yours or other people’s, the day takes a lot out of you. Fortunately, there are some ways to battle complaints in the workplace.


You see and hear (and maybe even make) lots of complaints.

How this affects you

Complaints can come from you, your coworkers, and your friends (who may or may not also be coworkers). Complaining seems like it is a method of venting frustration, but it is really just a way that people deal with their perception that they are helpless. People who complain frequently are stuck talking about problems rather than finding solutions. Why? They don’t realize that there are strategies for dealing with the problem that they are complaining about.

Why are complaints a problem? They are contagious. They spread like wildfire, expanding out of control and often growing more intense as time passes, even if nothing new happens to fuel them. As those around you become increasingly negative and cynical, your day becomes less fun, which can lead to even more complaints. Remember, relationships can be one of the biggest sources of satisfaction at work. But constant complaints can put a strain on those relationships, even if you agree with the complainers. 

Action to take

To stem the tide of complaints, the best starting point is you. Train your mind to recognize when you are complaining. You’ll probably be surprised how readily you complain without even thinking about it. You may not even realize that what you are doing is, in fact, complaining. “Gas prices are too high.” “It’s too hot out today.” “This porridge is too hot.” “This porridge is too cold.” When you start to pay attention to your complaints, you’ll realize how often you do it.

Let’s take a moment to define the word complaint.” For the purpose of this strategy, a complaint is a negative commentary without any proposed solution. Compare, “Gas prices are too high!” with, “Gas prices are so high—would you like to carpool?” See the difference?

So, how do you recognize when you are complaining? Sometimes, all it takes is to think about what you say. You can set a “watch for complaints” reminder on your calendar or leave yourself a note someplace where you frequently pass by. The goal is to develop your ability to identify complaints before they come out of your mouth.

In the process of recognizing spoken complaints, you should also monitor your body language—eye rolling, tightening of the mouth, huffing, cocking your head to the side—all might accompany a complaint. Once you learn to recognize these behaviors…

More information about the Action to Take is available to registered users for most strategies. Sign in to get access to it.

Why this works

The Why this Works section is only available in print copies of Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean?.


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