We’ve all been there. Sometimes when work gets busy or a client or coworker is difficult to work with, it just feels good to complain a little. But, unfortunately for us, complaining can be a lot less effective than we might think it is. In fact, what seems like a harmless, no-risk way to vent about the day might actually be harmful to your productivity and the people around you. While complaining might feel really good and helpful in the moment, its negativity can linger, adding tension and toxicity into the workplace. This toxicity often results in negative long-term effects. So, the next time you feel like complaining try some of these coping mechanisms instead:
Address the problem
Keep track of what it is that makes you want to complain. Is it a specific coworker? Is it your boss, or the way specific situations have a pattern of being handled? Once you’ve been able to pinpoint the problem, the next step requires planning. Brainstorm ways you can address the identified problem. If it’s a person, such as a coworker or client, start thinking of ways you can address them that will be effective and respectful. Addressing the problem and coming up with solutions will help you decrease the urge to complain.
Think about how much time is being wasted
As an experiment, try recording a rough estimate of how much time you spend complaining each day or each week. You’ll probably be surprised with how much of your time is being used to complain about the situation around you. It might even be enough to make you stop complaining, or at least make you think twice.
Open the channels for feedback
Oftentimes, when people complain, they just want to be heard. This is why giving employees the chance to give feedback can be beneficial, especially when it comes to maintaining a positive workplace environment. If you notice employees or coworkers are complaining during the work day, try giving them an opportunity to speak up. Consider placing a suggestion box in the lunchroom, or host one-on-one or group meetings designed specifically for feedback.
Practice constructive complaining
Not all complaining is bad. The key to successful complaining is finding the right time and place to do so. When you have the urge to complain, write it down and come back to it. Consider rewriting your complaint in a way that makes you feel heard without sounding negative. This is a great practice for retraining your brain to sound less negative and more thoughtful.
At Quadrivium Advisors, we know how difficult it can be to bite your tongue. When it comes to complaining, what helps you resist the urge?