Are You the Complainer?

Are You the Complainer?

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Your job as an event coordinator regularly makes the top five for most stressful jobs in the world. But how do you know when you’ve crossed the line between stress and burn-out? 

During a recent conversation with my friend, I didn’t ask how she was doing or share any positive news. Instead, I spent our time lamenting about work, the construction going on near my home and over-committing my time. After patiently listening to my griping for several minutes, she said, “Wow. That’s a lot of stress. Before I need to hang up, what’s going well in your world?”
Subtly, my friend was signaling that my complaining was wearing on her. She was wrapping up our call to take a break from my negativity. It’s not good sign when a friend or co-worker is happier to disconnect from a call with you than reconnect with you.
Do you know what is worse than dealing with a negative person? It’s discovering that you are viewed as a negative person by people you like and respect.
In researching my book Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers many people surprisingly admitted that they were Complainers. The feedback was anonymous and several respondents responded that they felt they were the ones acting negatively in the office. In the optional comment section were responses like, “I don’t have a Complainer…I am the Complainer.” “I used to do this but now I’m a reformed complainer.” One even issued an apology, “Wow! After reading these descriptions, I realize that I complain a lot. Sorry.”
If you’ve received feedback about your negative attitude or suspect that you are reacting in a way that isn’t professional, you might be a complainer.
Summer is the season for breaks from the office, trips and relaxation. Are people in your office happier to see you depart for a vacation rather than see you return? When others are willing to do the extra work to cover your absence rather than have you back at work, it’s a good indicator you might be creating drama or a negative work environment.
Not sure if you are the office energy drainer? Then review your interactions with others the past month and see if any of these situations are familiar.
  • When you vent, do people suddenly find a reason to end your call or leave the room?
  • How often are you asked to get to the bottom line or to tone down your criticism?
  • When you talk in meetings, do others seem frustrated or appear bored?
  • Have you ever withdrawn from participating when you feel unappreciated? 
  • When your work is disregarded or your efforts aren’t respected, do you become exacting or create barriers to communicate with you? 
People complain differently. Maybe your complaining style is to overreact, explode or intimidate people Perhaps you’re gossiping about co-workers or only hanging out with the same group or clique. Maybe you retreat or ignore emails and calls.
Did you connect with the negative behavior? Or are you acting negatively more than you wish? If you want to check if you are creating a negative environment for others, take the free online assessment “Are You Seen as a Complainer?”  

Spot Yourself Complaining

 You know that chronic complaining isn’t a long-term business strategy for your success. Complaining is a way of satisfying unmet needs and expressing stress. Once you determine what drives your behavior, you can find an effective alternative. Are you dealing with energy draining situations outside your control? What triggers your complaining?
According to the Stop Complainers research, the top reasons people complain at work are unclear direction, lack of feedback from leadership, incompetent co-workers or boss, unrealistic demands from others and too much work.

What Are the Reasons You Are Complaining?

 Try to determine what you want to accomplish or what need you wish to fill through your Complaining. Watch your behavior and see when the complaining appears the most. When you are under pressure, which behavior best describes you and the need you are trying to meet? For instance, are you trying to relate with others, maintain stability, be noticed or get things done?

Good News and Breakthroughs

 When you spot breakdowns in your behavior that you don’t like, you can make a different choice. If you would like to have a breakthrough and stop complaining, ask yourself the following:
If I could communicate in a way that people would hear me and help me achieve my goals, what positive results could be possible?
How can I demonstrate power and assertiveness while remaining diplomatic?
What would the most influential, positive person I know do in this situation?
What is my next best step to propel me forward professionally?
Complaining is not an effective way to express yourself as a professional. Whining and griping limit your career opportunities. Your ability to function, think and produce good results is negatively affected by complaining. Complainers are not popular among co-workers or leaders. Complainers limit their opportunity for growth, promotion and even continued employment.
Instead, positive people who solve problems and suggest solutions are more highly valued at home and at work. Your success relies on your ability to show up, do what you promised to do and be someone people want to have around. 
You are in charge of your career and your life. Go negotiate a good one!


This is a guest post from Linda Swindling, JD, CSP. Catch more of her negotiation and empowerment strategies insights at her blog.