Moment of the Park, Debrecen

Lifes too short! Moment of the Park, Debrecen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seriously, stop it.

It really annoys me (Irony alert!)

We all seem to have fallen into the trap of believing complaining is in some way a god given right. On top of that we also immediately expect some sort of major recompense for our perceived injury. It’s almost like people are afraid they’ll miss out if they don’t complain!

The trouble is, complaining all the time leads to more complaining.

Everything from bad service in a shop, to your employers failure to spot your brilliance. Even some poor soul and their personal tribulations seem to be fair game. And it seems half of what we complain about has nothing to do with us.

Complaining about someone else’s kids running riot? Butt out. Not your problem. You have no idea what that child, or the parent is going through.

Try some support instead? An understanding smile or shrug of the shoulders might help lots.

Whinging about some drunk on the bus, or in the street? Yes, maybe its early to be inebriated, but are they doing any direct harm to you and yours? Are they going to have any impact on your day at all? No?

How about having to deal with whatever it was that has impacted them to the point they feel it necessary to get drunk in the first place? Homelessness? Abuse? Poverty? Mental illness?

Nah.. Me either.

I’m not saying you should reach out, I just mean keep your nose out, and have a bit of respect. We are talking about fellow humans here. No matter the state they are in.

And my favourite compliant? The one you make in work about your career. About how it’s not fair. Or you were over looked. Or someone has it in for you. Or you just don’t get the breaks.

Or if you’re in sales like me, how the deck always seems to be stacked against you.

It’s not your fault the economy is shot right? No reason why the calls you make to the same old people over and over again shouldn’t nett you as much revenue as that hotshot new girl who never seems to be in the office and is always breaking the rules.

You know, the girl who is the favourite of the sales manager?

Don’t get me wrong. I love a bit of complaining sometimes. Over serious stuff. Like arguing over my child’s access to education. Or the way a huge corporate deals with me or my family. And I’m really good at it too. I work in the media, and you don’t want to mess with me baby…

But its important to stop yourself sometimes, and ask: who’s ‘fault’ is this really?

Is anyone actually at fault? Or is it just the universe having its regular laugh at our expense? Is it someone else’s problems that have conspired to spill over into our sphere of awareness.

Most importantly, whats the outcome of the complaining going to be? What is it going to achieve? Is it going to change anything? Or is it just going to heat up the atmosphere further, and worse, indoctrinate you into believing your can’t achieve whatever it is you have set out to achieve.

Because that’s the biggest problem here. Abdication of responsibility. If its someone else’s fault, there is nothing I could have done about it.

Missed out on a promotion? Not my fault, he was a real creep and its all about who you know..

Didn’t close the deal? Well the client didn’t call me back, and then she went on holiday…

Before you know it, you’ve programmed yourself to get shafted on a daily basis.

You begin to accept that bad things happen (which they undoubtedly do) and you can’t actually do anything about it. Or at least that its someones else’s responsibility to do something about it.

Not true.

This is the whole point: it’s what you do about it that counts. Its how you react to the problem that defines you.

The following terms have sort of worn out a bit and may be aren’t so fashionable as they were a while back, but I still try to live by them.

‘Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!’

If someone comes to me and asks if they can press the trigger on their plan to over come an identified issue, its rare I will refuse them. And how do you think the organisation will then regard that person? The do-er, not the complainer?

‘If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem!’

You’re either on the team or you’re not. You’re either going to help, or hinder, to support or tear down. We don’t need poison in our organisation. If you don’t like it fine! There are no bars on the windows.

Have some personal accountability.

Take responsibility for YOUR actions, and start to think about how to over come, not who to complain to.

Life is sometimes full of many real and major tragedies. The people who deal with these are invisible to us yet should be inspirational. The grieving who go back to work, the injured who keep getting up and going again, the bereft ‘winning small’ every day to keep themselves going.

The reality is we have nothing to complain about. We who are endlessly lucky. We are whole and hale and healthy.

Take the chance you have, don’t wait for someone to invite you. And don’t complain about the fact you don’t have the chance, try and do something about it.

Stop complaining, be grateful and take action – don’t let things happen TO you. Make them happen FOR you.

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6 replies
  1. Reflections on Leading
    Reflections on Leading says:

    Tony – I totally agree with your sentiments. Life isn’t fair (that’s just how it is) and really tough stuff happens – but we do have a choice about how we deal with things and how we respond to others and how we make them feel. May I suggest that it really helps to be aware of our own emotional response to the scenario, acknowledge it and then respond to the scenario in a way that helps generate solutions, instead of giving a knee-jerk response from the emotion.
    One of the helpful things I finally took on was about “choosing your battles” and choosing to let some of the niggly stuff just go, cos in the big scheme of things the niggly stuff really doesn’t matter. However the big stuff (like as you say ensuring your boys get the educational opportunities they need and deserve) and how we deal with the big stuff (the battles we choose to take on) we have loads of choice about.
    Keep writing and sharing!

  2. Jan Minihane (@JanMinihane)
    Jan Minihane (@JanMinihane) says:

    Great piece – I can’t help feeling that social media has a lot to answer for (much as I love it) as it’s easier than ever to complain, you don’t have to wait until you see your mates down the pub, you can post/tweet/blog about it straight away when you’re most reactionary. For me, social media has given a megaphone to the world, especially to those already predisposed towards having a whinge or four.
    Don’t sweat the small stuff, man up and like you say, concentrate on what’s really important!

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