Complaining at work … an effective strategy?

Let’s face it, in our pantheon of complaints, our job holds a special place…  with its gods (we love to take issue with our boss and our clients) and its cults (around the coffee machine or after a meeting.)
Yet usually when we complain it is because we have “good reasons”. It’s true; we complain because we have a need that is not satisfied. This need is important enough to generate frustration and give rise to anger or annoyance, which are the source of our “bitching”.

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Although our need is real and often justified, we use moaning as a strategy – one that cannot bear fruit. This is one of the greatest lessons of the challenge “I quit complaining”.

To understand what I mean, put yourself in the shoes of the person who is on the receiving end of this kind of complaining.

Imagine that one of your relatives or co-workers came to you to discuss a problem and used one of these 3 recognizable aspects of complaining :

  • A bitter tone of voice – (Tone)
  • Blaming – (Positioning)
  • Exaggerating – (Accuracy)

For example, the person says,

“Look, I’m fed up. I’m telling you for the twentieth time that’s not the way to do it…  Why don’t you pay attention? We’re way behind and management is going to kill us! I can’t always be looking over your shoulder… I have more important things to do…”

How do you feel after this exchange? What is your automatic reaction?

When someone feels attacked, they generally do not want to cooperate or get involved with problem-solving; on the contrary, they usually have two reactions (or a sophisticated mix of both):

  • They will either leave (or ignore you)
  • Or they will defend themselves and attack in return

The fact is that we do not like being attacked and it stimulates our protective and/or defensive mechanisms.

To protect ourselves we try to create a distance  – create a filter –  between the ‘aggressor’ and ourselves. If we can, we will leave the room (sometimes slamming the door, other times more discreetly) because frankly, we try to avoid this kind of conversation. If it is not appropriate (or possible) to leave the room we create a mental distance between the words of the complainer and ourselves. Maybe in our head, we will say something like “There he goes again / he sure is fired up, but he’ll get over it.” So although we understand, we do not listen!

Although the person who feels hard done by tries to get us to care about their grievances (using a bitter tone, making us feel guilty and exaggerating reality)… we do not like to feel guilty and we disengage.

Sometimes we defend ourselves by attacking in return – accusing the other person and declaring that he is wrong and we are right (and that’s easy since he is probably exaggerating). We say “It’s not true… I don’t agree… you don’t realize… you don’t understand.” We then find ourselves in a battle of “who’s wrong and who’s right” and things quickly become heated because no one wants to lose that battle! If we are temperamentally disinclined to engage directly, then we often do it indirectly, for example by making a complaint to the Human Resources Department about how we’ve been spoken to.

Sometimes when we complain we are unconsciously hoping to create an ‘electric shock’. We think that by allowing our annoyance to show in our voice, demonstrating (or insinuating) that it is the other person’s fault, and by exaggerating a bit (or a lot) they will come to understand that they must change or that they need to do something to solve our problem.

Yet, however, many times this happens, we never seem to realize that someone who is wrong-footed has no desire to cooperate. He does not want to consider our words or our needs; we hoped to rally him to our cause but instead, he will try to get away from us or, worse still, attack us.

I invite you to re-read that last part and think of the ‘life lesson’ that I am wanting to share because it is critical. By moaning and complaining, we are trying to satisfy a real need but we are using a strategy that doesn’t work and ends up creating the opposite effect: we would like to create empathy for our problem but all we do is create annoyance or antagonism.

©2016

“Christine Lewicki is a Bestselling Author, Speaker & Coach. She is committed to helping people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE “I quit complaining” starter kit on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.com and visit her Facebook page for inspirational articles and quotes to reveal the best version of yourself each day!

A powerful tool, concrete and delicious!

Those of you who follow my writing and the message I bring know that two of my favorite themes are learning not to be a victim of everyday life and dare to take risks.

Today I am sharing with you a delicious, concrete and powerful tool that has the potential to transform your life – the gratitude list.

Copy of A powerful tool

 

It’s easy!

What you need:

A pencil or pen and something to write on. You will place them close to your bed or on your desk.

How?

Every night before you sleep, write down everything that was positive in your day. Regardless of the trials, you were faced with in that day, write a list of things, people, and events that brought you well-being and made you grateful.

The point is not to write a novel!

In the beginning, especially when we are confronted with a particularly trying day, it may seem impossible. So we delve a little deeper and we write things that we tend to consider “a given,” such as,

-I am healthy -I have enough to eat -I have a comfortable bed -I have a job…

The following day may be a very good day and you’ll find plenty of other things to write, such as,

-My colleagues and I had a very nice lunch -My daughter scored 10 out of 10 in math -I love my yoga class -My sister visited me -It was sunny all day…

By practicing this little exercise every day, you will find that you’ll discover more and more ‘little things’ for which you are grateful that you were not necessarily conscious of!

-The cat is purring -My neighbor smiled at me -There was no traffic on the freeway -I heard an interesting interview on the radio…

In short, all those little details that give flavor to our daily lives and which, once finally recognized and appreciated, help us little by little to build a whole new perspective on life. Your gratitude list will help shine a light on the ‘beautiful and the good’ around you.

It will help you to appreciate and therefore cultivate the abundance and brilliance of your life

I assure you that cultivating gratitude is worth it! Try it and you’ll see.

Neuroscience proves it; I recommend this article based on research conducted at the University of Berkeley in California  “expanding the science and practice of gratitude”

©2016

Christine Lewicki is a Bestselling Author, Speaker & Coach. She is committed to helping people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE “I quit complaining” starter kit on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.com . visit her Instagram page and  her Facebook page for inspirational articles and quotes to reveal the best version of yourself each day!

Everyday new opportunities arise!

My “ordinary” life becomes extra{ordinary} when I recognize that I have talents and choose to activate them!

Every day life... (1)

©2016

“Christine Lewicki is a Bestselling Author, Speaker & Coach. She is committed to helping people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE “I quit complaining” starter kit on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.com and visit her Facebook page for inspirational articles and quotes to reveal the best version of yourself each day!

6 steps to communicate so that you can be heard

A few months ago I wrote an article titled: Learning to express our needs and frustrations differently.part 1 and part 2

Today I want to share with you a visual that I have created to remind myself of this process. I printed it, taped it to my fridge and I am using it every day.

Because sometimes we do have something to say to the people around us. We do need them to help us meet our needs. But it’s not always easy to communicate. The more important the need is, the more chances we have to slip into our blaming and complaining habit and let’s face it it’s exhausting to complain and not feel heard.

6 steps canva

©2016

Christine Lewicki is a Bestselling Author, Speaker & Coach. She is committed to helping people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE “I quit complaining” starter kit on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.com and visit her Facebook page for inspirational articles and quotes to reveal the best version of yourself each day!

I am not a victim!

We are the victim when it comes to our boss, our job (or our lack of employment), the political crisis, our spouse, our family… you’ll notice that we often talk about ourselves as victims. We expend a lot of energy pointing out it’s not our fault – it’s the other person’s fault (our spouse, our children, our boss, our colleague, the President, the administration, service providers) we are in this mess!

I found out for myself that I had managed to develop a talent for pointing the finger at the culprits in my life. In a way, it’s fun to be a victim because if the others are wrong then I am necessarily right. If the other person is guilty then it is up to him to find a solution to the problem, not me. But in the end, what this means (annoyingly enough) is that if the blame is squarely on the other person, I am powerless to do anything.

I have the power to choose to not be a victim! (2)

It is true that it is often easier to be a victim than someone who acts, but when I decide that I am the victim I no longer have the power to take control of my life. In the end, it’s me who suffers the real consequences. Wouldn’t you agree?

When I cast myself as a victim I choose to give my power to the person who is supposedly “guilty.” By pointing the finger I make them the master of my destiny. I realized one day that I was able to refuse to function this way and I have no doubt that you can as well.

We talk to our friends, our relatives, our colleagues, about our lives because we need to interact and share our problems and, yes, that is an inherent part of love and friendship, as are compassion and support… All that is good. I am not saying that we cannot discuss our problems and share our suffering, far from it. But we have the power to REFUSE to cast ourselves as victims of anything, or anyone.

This is one of the biggest revelations of my life, that I was casting myself as a victim and I could easily choose not to.

I think it’s amazing to realize that we have that choice!

By looking at how we talk about ourselves and our problems, we have the choice to either give our power to the so-called culprits… Or not.

Imagine, if you are a no longer a victim, if others are not guilty… Then anything is possible! No?

©2016

Want to you use this article in your newsletter, blog, or on your website? You can, as long as you include the following blurb:

“Christine Lewicki is a Bestselling Author, Speaker & Coach. She is committed to helping people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE “I quit complaining” starter kit on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.comand visit her Facebook page for inspirational articles and quotes to reveal the best version of yourself each day!

No Complaining at Work: Myth or Reality? Part II

I Stop Complaining Office

No Complaining at Work: Myth or Reality? Part II

It seems to me that to be able to stop complaining at work, it is important to understand why we complain in the first place? Then, we can identify the changes that we can make to EXPERIENCE our life at work differently.

So why do we complain at work?

We complain because we need acknowledgement. We whine because we want others to realize all that we do. Nowadays our need for acknowledgment is not always easy to be fulfilled  because  with the use of computers  our work load is less noticeable in the eyes of others. In reality, we complain because we’re going through a hard time and we want everyone to know about it. Isn’t that right?

We complain because we need to connect with others. Have you noticed how when we complain there is always someone who joins in? This is why we start complaining the minute we arrive at  work. We complain about the weather, about public transportation, about our emails overload, about our never ending list of things to do …. sometimes even before simply saying good morning! Complaining is like a low frequency/low engagement conversation so its easy to vent around the coffee machine at break time.

We also complain to be seen and heard and to put ourselves on a pedestal. We complain to be right and to make the other people wrong, we say that they don’t understand, that it’s not our fault, and that the others are guilty ( sometimes we conveniently omit a few details to make ourselves look good and take no responsibility)

It’s easier to complain than to take action. I notice for myself that it’s easier to complain to accuse and blame others  and prove that we are victims than to roll up our sleeves to create change! It’s easy to complain, easier than to take a stand. When we complain we are often like the spectators on the benches at the sporting event commenting the game.  ( and judging the qualities of the players and their strategies) It’s so much easier to be seating in the stands than to dare get up from the benches and go on the playground.

Let’s be clear, when we complain we are not doing anything wrong. We are not hurting people after all. We all have in our surroundings a colleague who is always complaining and gets on everybody’s nerves. I would like today to address everyone else. All those who like me have a tendency to complain without being aggressive but who complain by habit. Those who have a tendency to endure all the little petty annoyances and ruminate all day long under their breath, among friends having coffee and even sometimes all in good fun!

The problem is that complaining doesn’t make things go any faster or smoother. We may think that complaining makes things happen and helps us get what we want but the truth is  that when someone is complaining at me I have only two possible reactions: I either get away and plug my ears (to protect myself from the annoyance) or I defend myself and start a fight ( who likes to me made wrong ? not me)

Complaining prevents our emotional intelligence to kick in. Rather than looking for solutions, to use common sense and to try to communicate our needs, we choose the strategy to accuse the other and to blame them for our misfortunes.

I noticed that when we complain we think we are punishing others when in fact we are punishing ourselves. We hold on to our frustrations like a precious treasure. We transform our problems into dramas instead of looking at them like they are problems that we can overcome. We exaggerate, we amplify, we cannot find the right words…and in the end we spend our day with a grey cloud over our heads which prevents us from noticing the blue sky. In the end, we go to bed exhausted and as if we’ve had to endure the whole day instead of living and enjoying it.

It’s as if we get to work in the morning with the illusion that everything is going to go as planned without any obstacles, without any delays  and that everyone around us will comply and act according to our desires whether it be our colleagues, our suppliers, or even our work tools. So when things get sidetracked,  we start to complain and have a breakdown sort of speak. We are in the end the first ones to endure our bad mood ( and our bad will)

What about you? What do you get out of complaining at work ?  Need more concrete tips?

Be sure you did not miss Part I of article  and the special  5 tips to stop complaining at work!

Share it with your friends or colleagues 🙂

Love and Respect,

christine-signature

Christine Lewicki

© 2014

Want to you use this article in your newsletter, blog, or on your website? You can, as long as you include the following blurb:

“Christine Lewicki is a Bestselling Author, Speaker & Coach. She is committed to help people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE ”I Quit Complaining Starter Kit”  on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.com

IQC Visual

No Complaining at Work: Myth or Reality? Part I

I STOP Complaining

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No Complaining at Work: Myth or Reality? Part I

Let’s get real! We all have plenty ” good reasons” to complain at work!

Why? Well, first of all the main reason is that we find ourselves in a hierarchical relationship and we have to abide to a supervisor, rules and follow directions. It’s not really fun !

This affects our deep desire for freedom and our human nature rebels. We’d like to have more freedom to choose, to express ourselves. We are sick and tired of having to take orders and obey and often time we have a hard time making sense of what we are doing… so we end up complaining!

At work we are often under pressure. Of course there’s always too much to do in a day that is always too short, so in the end we get exhausted, we didn’t stop all day and we are never 100% caught up and it gets frustrating. We’d like to be able to control everything. We’d like everything to go according to plan but unfortunately it’s an unattainable illusion.

As soon as a mere grain of salt comes and compromise our plans we explode because we are already on the edge, tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes we feel like we’re going against the current and that we’ll never make it… so we complain.

With our laptops and our cell phones, the thin line between work and private life is compromised and it goes too far sometimes… so we complain to reassure ourselves that we are alive and that we are not just a machine working at the service of the company.

Our performance and results are constantly being evaluated and it can be an uncomfortable situation to be constantly feeling judged. It’s as if our professional success determines our personal value… so we complain.

We feel overwhelmed so we have a tendency to accuse others who also have much to do and may feel like us. It’s like an infernal spiral and in the end our work place starts to resemble the wall of lamentations.

Have you noticed how we often complain about the complainers? Hearing others complain rubs off on us  and we complain even more. Do you know that complaining is like bad breath ? We notice it in others but hardly notice our own, ( the same for bad driving !) Yes, other people complain and that’s why I wanted to be the change in my own life and start the 21 day challenge.

What about you, yes you have plenty of reasons to complain, but could you envision a day  at work without complaining?

In the next article, we’ll explore in more details what really makes us complain at work? Don’t miss it!

Love and Respect,

christine-signature

Christine Lewicki

© 2014

Want to you use this article in your newsletter, blog, or on your website? You can, as long as you include the following blurb:

“Christine Lewicki is a Bestselling Author, Speaker & Coach. She is committed to help people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE ”I Quit Complaining Starter Kit”  on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.com

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5 Tips to Quit Complaining at Work!

Readers of my French book “J’Arrête de Râler! “ – I Stop Complaining! and journalists often ask me to share tips on how to stop complaining. And yes, sometimes good intentions are not enough and we need to use some tricks to be able  to take the plunge and stop complaining.

Picture Credit:  Marie Claire article on “J’Arrête  de Râler!” 

I recently published an article called “7 Tips to Stop Complaining as Parents” and today in the spirit of Back to Business I wanted to share with you my best “5 Tips to Stop Complaining at Work!”

TIP # 1 – COMMUNICATE IN REAL TIME:
If something is troubling you, talk about it on the spot in real time when it is still fresh. Do not wait ! It’s in the waiting that the trouble usually appears. By the way I want to remind you that you can use the same technique to communicate about something you appreciate ( yes, why not?).

There is nothing worse than not “SAYING” things. When too much time has passed to express ourselves, misunderstandings and frustrations arise and become subjective interpretations which gradually create distance and discomfort between people. Unexpressed frustrations quickly turn into judgments of the other person in our own mind and ultimately our perception has nothing to do with reality. In addition, we unconsciously begin to find fault and evidence  to confirm our own judgment and bad thoughts  arise about the person. Eventually the situation explodes and both sides accused of all evils will be forced to defend themselves tooth and nail. Communication is no longer possible because it is too late. To stop complaining at work is also about identifying discomfort and  deciphering problems when they are  still relatively small. Also beware of  emails communication. They are real communication hazard loaded with potential  misunderstandings.

TIP #2 -CELEBRATE THE POSITIVE:

We often spend so much time complaining about what’s not working, why not switch gears and talk instead of the positive and what is working. Talk about our achievements, the contributions of our colleagues, the obstacles overcome, projects that are advancing …  Celebrate the positive and fill the tank with goodness, you identify strengths and talents, you realize that even if sometimes you feel you are stagnating in fact you are making progress!  It is wise to stop and address and confront problems in real time. What if you started all your business or staff meetings on a positive note spending  10 minutes to talk about and  highlight the positive and  the contributions of all concerned in the projects?

TIP # 3 – BE PERFECT WITH YOUR WORDS:  How many times have we found ourselves at work unconsciously muttering: “It’s always my fault” “It’s always the same” “This is hell” “They’re all incompetent” “They’re all thieves! “We generalize failures we exaggerate, we amplify and we do not use the right word. For example we blame our chronic lateness on traffic not owning that we are in fact  responsible for not  hitting  the road early enough. The worst  is that in the end we come to believe what we say and the words we speak become our reality. Can you imagine the serenity which could arise from simply having and using the right words? Saying things as they are is very liberating. Try it and see! To dig deeper on this subject I suggest you read the famous book: “The Four Agreements: The Path to Personal Freedom”

TIP #4 – REPLACE “BUT” BY “AND” : Instead of saying “you have done well BUT …. (and then accuses the other of something they’ve done wrong …).  Try saying ” you have done well AND “… (and continue by listing a progress track). BUT announces a judgment that we express and cancels the positive feedback that we have to make and it gives our partner the impression that we are hypocrites by giving a compliment only to better swallow the pill of criticism that we are about to administer ! By using the word AND instead it opens the door for creative development. We can say, “You have done well AND  it would be interesting next time  to…. (it works at work but also in your relationship and with  family! ) Try it, it’s magic!)

TIP # 5 – BECOME AWARE OF  YOUR COMPLAINT TRIGGERS : Often we complain out of sheer habit and don’t even realize we’re doing it. As soon as we get to the office in the morning we automatically complain about traffic, or rattle all day long about our back pain, our slow computer or the incompetence of our colleague or boss. We all have triggers that make us sound like a broken record. If you really want to stop complaining at work but is seems impossible at this time, then tackle it in stages: first identify YOUR TRIGGERS that automatically pop up  for you every day and focus on becoming aware and removing it one at a time and so on

I really hope these tips will be helpful and feel free to share this article with your networks and office! We spend so much time at work that it’s really sad to feel victimized and suffer. Work is such a wonderful arena to excel, discover, prove, assert ourselves and contribute and it can empower us in our lives if we allow it.

Good luck and do not hesitate to share your comments on this blog.

Love and Respect,

christine-signature

Christine Lewicki

© 2012

Want to you use this article in your newsletter, blog, or on your website? You can, as long as you include the following blurb:

“Christine Lewicki is a Bestselling Author, Speaker & Coach. She is committed to help people quit complaining and become entrepreneurs of their lives. You can download your FREE ”I Quit Complaining Starter Kit”  on her blog www.iquitcomplaining.com

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PS: I now offer conferences & seminars for companies on
” Quit  Complaining at work!” Contact me if you are interested.

Related articles:

5 trucs pour arrêter de râler au boulot ( French article on J’Arrête de Râler! blog)

“7 Tips to Stop Complaining as Parents”