"Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns,
be happy that the thorn bush has roses."
Few of us realize how much we complain yet how to deal with complainers is often a hot topic for my brilliant clients.
"How can I be forward thinking and positive when those around me squander my time with their complaints about the way things are?
I don't want to be rude, but I simply have no time for complaints. My focus is instead on moving forward into new opportunities."
In the very same three minutes you take up a person's time in complaining, you can use your time (and theirs) more effectively in quickly identifying the problem and just as quickly moving toward a creative solution.
Please don't mistake 'complaining' with 'venting.' We often have a legitimate need to vent. We need to release our dilemma before moving toward the solution.
The mistake we make is in venting to the wrong person, oftentimes the individual directly in front of us, or to everyone in sight.
Wise approaches to venting are:
- Journal about your challenge. This slows your mind down long enough to see the real issue. Once clarified, solutions will flow.
- Find an appropriate person with whom to vent and set boundaries. This is common between peers, friends or husband and wife. "I don't want you to solve this. I just need to let it out and then I'll feel better."
Switching back to the issue of complaining, if you think you don't grumble, find fault or constantly criticize, reflect back on 2009 conversations. Topics like the economy, government, weather are favorites for those who see the benefit in complaining.
Only those who complain enjoy being around others who complain.
For the rest of us, it's painful, knowing there are more fruitful topics to explore - like goals, visions for the future, new and creative approaches to an upcoming project (rather than complaining about the time involved or resources needed for this new project.)
Explore what's going right in a person's life, what interests or fascinates them, what they've recently learned, what you've recently learned or want to learn, what they've accomplished and what's next. Focus on acknowledging them and brainstorming new ideas.
The list goes on. Create your own list.
Next week, we'll explore how to gracefully transition direct reports, peers, superiors and others into a more productive space than languish in the negative.
For this week, notice the tone of your conversations. Are they of a positive/productive nature or do you lean toward the negative? Do people look at you to explore the problem or solution? Notice to whom you naturally gravitate. Is it the complainer or the forward thinker? What does this tell you?