If you want to live a happy life, you’ve got to stop complaining! But sometimes complaining is a good thing- if you complain the right way. Complaining can be an effective way to express yourself, spark positive change, and release your stress. Enjoying the benefits of complaining is all about complaining the right way- the right way to a happier self! (Note: Complaining the right way is not the get exactly what you want way. Sorry, that way doesn’t actually exist.)
I try to avoid complaining, though I will admit sometimes a challenging situation gets the better of me and I momentarily enjoy the self-satisfaction of righteous ranting. The more other people agree my complaints are valid, the more tempted I am to repeat my complaints to someone else and get even more validation. But I know it’s a negative, unproductive cycle and one I’ve got to stop. When I have a legitimate complaint, I focus on complaining the right way to the right people.
Recently I was on the receiving end of the wrong kind of complaining. I felt berated and powerless, unable to come up with a solution while another person repeated their complaints multiple times, blaming and judging me for their perception of the problem. Not only was I unhappy, so was the person complaining. The entire situation was frustrating and demeaning to us both! This unfortunate experience could have had a positive and productive result if approached differently.
What, exactly, is the right way to complain? Here are some ideas for complaining for a positive purpose.
Complaining the right way
Put it in perspective
When you’re unhappy about something it may appear the problem is more dire than it really is. The more powerful your complaint there’s more inflation of your negative perception of a potentially neutral situation. It’s rarely as bad as it feels.
Own your part
Whatever your complaints about another person, organization, or situation, know that only you are responsible for your own happiness and well-being. When you complain the right way you own your part and accept responsibility for your actions and reactions. The best part of accepting responsibility for yourself is having greater influence over your own health and happiness.
Could you have been more communicative? Were you clear about your expectations? Did the other person have all the information? Do you fully understand the situation? Do they fully understand the situation?
Often complaints are built on assumptions or judgments. Perhaps your complaint isn’t really about what someone else did but your expectations, which may or may not be realistic. Maybe there are really good reasons they did what they did. Maybe they just made a one-time mistake (mistakes are okay!).
Asking a few simple questions about the situation can diffuse a your disappointment and provide an opportunity to clarify what really went wrong.
It’s never a good idea to communicate when you’re angry. Take a break, get some space, and calm down before sharing your complaints. You can express your concerns more effectively when you’re not emotionally charged.
Tell the right person
If you have a complaint, go directly to the source. Telling your complaints to everyone but the person you’re upset with is just gossiping. It undermines your reputation.
Say it once, and only once
If you repeat your complaints over and over again you are trap yourself in a cycle of negative thinking and your legitimate complaining becomes bullying!
Image courtesy of P Shanks
Be kind and respectful
Every person deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. If the situation were reversed, think about how you’d want to be treated. You have a legitimate complaint and still other people deserve your respect.
If they aren’t being kind and respectful to you, be the bigger person! Don’t stoop to their level. Be someone you are proud to be!
Keep it productive
You have more to gain by focusing on solutions instead of problems. Voice your complaint and follow it up with a solution. How could the situation be improved? What could be done differently next time?
Make a change
Sometimes complaining the right way won’t improve your situation. If a situation is not working for you, you have choices about how you respond- you can choose to make a change. You can change your attitude, change your behavior, or change your situation. You’re never as stuck as you think you are.
Let it go
You’ve complained the right way so what’s next? Let it go! Don’t hold grudges. Don’t keep score. The past cannot be changed and the future is not yet determined. The more you hold on to your complaints, the more likely your reality will match your perceptions.Join the Conversation
You didn’t get the job you wanted. You were passed over for promotion. Your boss didn’t listen to your ideas. The customer went with another vendor. There are many situations that lead to professional disappointment.
Disappointment can’t be avoided but it can be managed. Managing disappointment is the difference between getting stuck in fear, frustration, and doubt, and using the experience learn, grow, and embrace the next opportunity that comes your way.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” ~ Helen Keller
I recently experienced a professional disappointment that took me a day or so to shake. My disappointment came when I gave a presentation that flopped. Big time. Even though I gave my best presentation I felt embarrassed at my failure to connect with the audience and deliver a great speech. I felt discouraged.
After recovering from the initial sting of disappointment I thought to myself, “I’m going to write about this.” Now, I didn’t decide to write about this because the disappointment didn’t shake me or because I knew exactly how to move past the disappointment; I decided to write about it because I needed to brainstorm solutions and work some creative problem solving magic! So my presentation didn’t go well- so what? Life’s too short to be unhappy any longer than absolutely necessary.
Come on and read on for some of my ideas for dealing with disappointment!
No matter how hard I’ve tried, and I’ve tried, I can’t turn my feelings on and off like a faucet. Sometimes I just have to feel what I’m feeling- to be in that feeling for a moment or two. It’s important not to wallow there, but simply acknowledge my feelings. Yep, I’m feeling disappointed. Oh, hello there, disappointment.
Do something nice for yourself
This is the perfect opportunity to treat myself extra nice! To take a few minutes to do something I enjoy like snuggle up with my dogs, take a walk, take a nap, or catch up with a favorite TV show.
Learn from it
Okay so things didn’t go my way- why? Could I have done something differently? What am I willing to do differently next time? There’s always something to learn and doing so helps me be more effective and more resilient.
We’ve all experienced disappointment and sharing our experiences is a great way to help others and build relationships- kinda like I’m sharing my experience with you right now. If you’re struggling with disappointment I hope you find a little wisdom and release here. If you’ve experienced disappointment maybe you can share it with someone else and help them through this challenge.
Image courtesy of horrigans
Try, try again
No doubt I’ll have another opportunity to give a presentation in the near future and I’m going to take it! I’ve found the best way to build my confidence and ability is to keep practicing, keep trying, keep doing. I can do this!
Be open to other opportunities
More than once I’ve been disappointed when I didn’t get a job or promotion I wanted only to find another great opportunity was just around the corner!
The key is being open to another opportunity instead of focusing on the opportunity that didn’t work out. It’s done. It’s in the past. If I want to be successful I have to stop looking back and look ahead.
Make the best of it
Sometimes I just have to be open to seeing my situation from a new perspective. I’m a master of making the best of whatever is in front of me. I can’t always change my situation but I can change my attitude. If my attitude is poor, no one is going to want to offer other opportunities.
Keep being awesome!
I choose embrace my inner awesome and you can, too! Sure, we’ve all got weaknesses and we all have strengths. The best way to turn around a disappointment is to keep kicking ass each and every day. Yeah!
I love your comments- keep ‘em coming! What’s your best tip for dealing with disappointment? What’s your biggest challenge when dealing with disappointment? How are you going to be awesome today?Join the Conversation
A few years ago I found myself in a position I never thought I’d be in- I had developed a bad reputation at my workplace. I truly believe I am a dedicated and hardworking employee and helpful and considerate co-worker- how did this happen?!
More rumors than a Fleetwood Mac album.
Somehow a few people at my organization had the impression I was unstable, unreliable, and difficult to work with. Rumors got around to my boss that I had multiple breakdowns in front of multiple employees and that I spent more time chatting with co-workers than I did working. To say I was surprised by these accusations is an understatement. (Jaw, meet floor. Oh, and did I just swallow a fly while sitting here open-mouthed?)
Okay, so I’m not all that AND a bag of chips.
Of course I’m not perfect, either. I must admit my own behavior did play a part in the misrepresentation of my character. During a period of organizational change, I felt lost and unsure of my future with the company. I felt resentful about the position I was put in and at the time I didn’t have much faith in the organization’s leadership. During this time of stress and change my work may have slipped a little and no doubt my attitude showed- oops! While I didn’t do the things that were said about me, I did let my disappointment get the better of me.
I felt even more frustrated and discouraged when I realized my reputation had been damaged but I also realized I had a choice- I could feel resentful for the situation I was in, or I could rebuild my good reputation. I’m sure you can guess which one I chose. (Hmmm… do I choose to be miserable or awesome?)
I am way too awesome to let the story end like this.
Feeling bummed about my situation and the misrepresentation of my character wasn’t going to help me make the best of what was in front of me. I chose to set aside my frustrations and resentment and focus on doing great work (and thus revealing my awesomeness to all). At the very least I wanted the chance to walk away from the situation with my self-respect and dignity intact, should I decide to seek employment elsewhere.
I’m not going to lie to you, giving my best to an organization I felt treated me unfairly was really hard. It took months of my giving my all to regain lost ground. Eventually I did rebuild my reputation as a dedicated, smart, capable, and helpful employee (-which I really am, so all I really had to do was be myself!)
The best part of embracing my inner awesome is the confidence and self-assurance I gained by making the best of a difficult situation instead of letting it get the best of me. (Hells to the yeah!)
Image courtesy of judepics
Rebuilding my reputation, step by step.
Step 1. Stop complaining, talking, and obsessing about it!
At some point I noticed how much I was talking about my crappy work situation with just about everyone from my husband to my friends to an HR representative at the office. (Speaking of The Office, Toby’s overflowing complaint files come to mind.) I talked about it so much it was difficult to think about anything else. I had to stop talking about it to move on.
Step 2. Get productive!
Keeping myself busy with actual work was a great way to shut off my blenderhead of complaints, it also proved my value and worth to the naysayers in the organization. All I really have to do is apply myself to the task in front of me- be it filing a stack of paperwork or submitting TPS reports. (Office Space reference for the win!)
Step 3. Do what I can do today and leave the rest for tomorrow.
I have found many problems appear insurmountable when I’m approach them from a past or future perspective. I can’t change what happened yesterday, and I can’t predict the future. I can, however, do my best today. (You hear that, problems, you’re totally surmountable. I’ll surmount you right now!)
Step 4. Be awesome!
Everyone has inner awesome and all I really had to do is embrace mine. Focusing on my frustrations had overshadowed my awesome. Any mistakes I’ve made or misrepresentations of my character cannot squash my awesome unless I let it. I’m only un-awesome if I give up. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about me, it matters what I think about me. When I embrace my inner awesome, it will shine through for all to see. (Oh, yeah!)Join the Conversation
Is worry consuming your life?
I didn’t think I worried much until I read this blog post in which the author tracked how often he worried over the course of a day. Reading his post I realized I worry more than I knew! (A lot more, in fact.)
When I worry it’s usually about a situation out of my control. I worry about the outcome. Worry is my mind’s way of trying to get control of the situation, yet worry never results in controlling life. Worry only turns my attention away from living a great life! Life’s too short to worry!
I’m challenging myself to worry less and enjoy life more. I hope you’ll join me on this challenge! Here’s how I am going to worry less:
The first step in changing any habit is being aware of when you’re doing it. As I create a worry less life, I will be mindful of my thoughts and note when I worry. It’s important not to judge myself for worrying- just to observe that it’s happening.
Is It Important?
When I notice myself worrying, I can ask myself, “how important is it really?” to determine if the concern truly needs my attention. Many of life’s problems are really not that important- certainly not important enough that it will concern me next week, next month, or next year. If it’s not important I can let it go.
What’s the best that could happen?
When I worry about big stuff I am usually positing the worst case scenario. When I choose to focus on a positive outcome over a negative outcome I relieve some of my worry and approach problems with a proactive and positive mindset.
What are my choices?
Not only do I often assume a worst case scenario, sometimes I trick myself into believing I’m stuck with whatever happens. In this situation I find it helpful to remind myself that I have choices. I choose how I act and respond. I can choose to take productive action, to do nothing, to temporarily set the problem aside and do something nice for myself, to talk it over with a trusted friend or mentor- the possibilities are endless!
Photo courtesy of ramyo
Act with intention
Instead of reacting to life I can act with intention. When I act with intention I am thoughtful about my behavior and how I can positively affect my life. I can’t control the result but I do control my actions. The best way to live a great life is not to try to force the results I want but simply act with good intention!
Learn from my mistakes
Sometimes I worry about making mistakes, even though I know mistakes are a-okay! One way to combat worry is to turn my attention from the mistake to making the best of my mistake. Life is all about learning! Take that, worry!
Reboot my day
If worry is really getting me down, I can reboot my day at any time. Taking a break is a great way to step away from the situation and come back with a renewed perspective. Some days I can’t quite seem to shake off stress and worry and that’s okay- tomorrow’s a new day!
I love your comments! What do you worry about most- the past, present ,or future? Are you going to join me in my challenge to worry less and enjoy more?Join the Conversation
Annoying coworkers- everything they do is irritating. Annoying coworkers can be recognized by their laziness, over-sharing, obnoxious habits, poor communication, lack of hygiene- you name it! I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there.
What if you annoying coworkers aren’t really all that annoying? Not true, you may insist as you prepare a list of your coworkers annoying traits. Well I have news for you- your coworkers are not as annoying as you think they are.
I’m not talking about difficult people here- those people that create a toxic and hostile work environment. What I am talking about are those people that just irritate you, even though they’re really decent human beings, whether or not you like them.
What I experience at work and in life is largely a result of my attitudes and perceptions. What I’m trying to say is it’s not them, it’s you. The good news is there’s really nothing you can do about a truly annoying coworker but there is a lot you can do about your experience!
If you’re still with me, perhaps you’re wondering if this is the point that I offer some ideas to turn your experience from negative to positive. This most definitely is that point so do please read on for some tips to make your annoying coworkers seem downright likeable!
How to change your attitude from annoyed to enjoyed!
Try becoming friends with your annoying coworker. You may find those annoying habits seem less annoying when you really get to know someone.
Getting to know the whole person, instead of a laundry list of habits, can help you appreciate the great qualities they possess. It’s much easier to overlook the not-so-good when you see the good, too. Perspective is good for your mental health!
A great way to connect with another person is to compliment them. Find a stellar quality in the other person and tell them how much you admire that quality. In my experience it’s impossible to feel annoyed and appreciative at the same time!
The modern workplace is a melting pot. Differences in culture, values, status, and personality can lead to stress and conflict.
When you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone, use this opportunity to accept others as they are. There’s more than one way to get the job done and your way is not the right way. Everyone is different and that’s okay.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want to be happy- stop complaining. Sure, you may have legitimate complaints, don’t we all, but repeating your complaints over and over again only makes you unreasonable and unhappy!
If you stop complaining about your so-called annoying coworkers you may soon find you don’t actually find them all that annoying after all.
Be your best
The best way to take your mind off another person’s annoying behavior is to focus on your own behavior. What’s on your to-do list? What are your goals?
Put your mind to work on your work. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction that comes from a job well done! You may even show your awesome talents leading to a raise or promotion!
Take care of you!
I am far more likely to be irritable when I’m hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
If you’re not taking care of you it’s a good bet you’re going to be more easily annoyed. If you find yourself feeling annoyed, do something nice for you.
What you experience is up to you
It’s a basic human truth that the people around us are bound to annoy us from time-to-time, but if you want a positive experience at work it’s important to adjust your perceptions and attitudes.
The more you focus your problems and stress on those things outside you (other people, places, and things), the more likely you are to be annoyed, stressed and unhappy. If you blame other people for your experience then what you experience is at the mercy of your coworkers.
However, when you take responsibility for what you experience you can have more great days, and realize your coworkers really aren’t that annoying. Or at least they no longer annoy you!
I love your comments! Are your coworkers as annoying as you think they are? What other ways do you adjust your experience for the better?Join the Conversation