Workplace Issues: Stop Complaining and Start Solving
You know what really grinds my gears? When individuals spend more time and energy complaining about workplace issues than focusing on fixing the problem at hand. I can certainly understand a vent session, but when complaining becomes an impediment to your own work and/or attitude, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
I read an article recently by Minda Zetlin at Inc.com titled “Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain” that explains how listening to too much complaining is actually bad for your brain! It states “being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb.” I’m not sure how scientific the definition of “dumb” is, but wow! Listening to complainers too much actually affects your brain negatively.
The article goes on to explain how to deal with someone who is complaining to you, i.e. go to your happy place, smile/nod, but don’t listen, walk away, etc, etc. These are all valid tactics if you’re trying to avoid the true issue, which in my opinion is the complainer! Do you really want an employee in your office who is making people DUMBER by complaining all the time? On top of bringing morale down and creating a negative atmosphere?
I’d argue the issue (the complainer) needs to be addressed head on, and the problem should be nipped in the bud. As I mentioned, we all need a little venting here and there to keep our sanity, but when the words out of someone’s mouth are more negative than positive there is a real problem.
So how best to deal with a constant complainer? For starters, there’s actually a chance the person doesn’t realize how negative they are being. If you feel comfortable enough, I would suggest simply telling the person they are pushing out negative vibes and stress that it’s not very productive. Okay, so that’s easier said than done. Another option is to ask the complainer how they want to fix and solve the workplace issue at hand so that it ends or doesn’t happen again. Instead of bitching and moaning together, work with the complainer to pinpoint the root of the problem. Where is the issue coming from? How can we fix this right now, and how can we avoid a similar problem moving forward? In fact, it can be a learning experience for both parties and a valuable lesson in how to solve problems rather than watching them grow and complaining about them.
I think you know who you are, complainers. There is a quite a difference between addressing a concern and asking for help and being a negative — and unproductive — protestor. So next time you are looking to vent, determine whether you are looking for help or just being an outlet. Would you rather be productive, or negative? If you’re on the other side of the rant, try to bring the true issue into focus. Perhaps your outsider perspective will be the most insightful.