Author: Byron Pulsifer, © 2017
How to stop complaining is a cry out of the wilderness of life. On the other hand, why is complaining so prevalent?
Well, the real reason that that people don’t stop complaining is that it is easier to complain than to accept responsibility for what may be wrong in your life. If you accept responsibility for some of your woes, you may have to take action that changes events in your life. Now, why would you want to do that?
Complainers Love Company
The truth to the issue of stopping from complaining is that complainers love the company of others. So, the question needs to be asked why this is so?
Here’s an explanation of why people that always bellyache want to have people join their complainers parade. You see, part of the human desire is to be able to fellowship with other people. Fellowship is a natural desire and a desire that melds people together in support. Just like the early settlers of years gone by who banded together for mutual protection or for the exchange of social requirements so it is that those who constantly complain want associates.
These associates are used by the complainer not as a mechanism or a way to change their minds about whatever it is that they see wrong or unsupportive, it is more because they wish to justify their actions or reactions. The more people that the complainer can influence to join them in their negative tirades the better they feel. And, the more adept they are at soliciting comrades that agree with their ideas, thoughts or everything wrong in life the more they are bolstered to conclude that their complaint was justified right from the beginning. Maybe this tacit or open approval lends support to the old adage that “misery loves company”.
At The Core Of Complaining
Now that we understand part of the reason why complainers love to secure other people in their misery club, the real question arises. And, that real question is at the heart of the complainers psychic. That question is this: what causes people to complain in the first place? To answer this question is not easy in that there are multiple root causes. However, for the sake of singular clarity, let us look at one antecedent to this question.
Part of the complainant’s psychic makeup is the need to be seen as someone of worth. This may at first appear as non-sensical but think about it. If you are frustrated with aspects of your life, if you feel that you are being ignored, if you feel that other people are getting attention and you are not, if you never seem to stand out compared to your colleagues at work or in your own particular social group one way to establish a presence, to get noticed, is to ramp up dialogue that draws attention to you. A complaint that goes counter to what everyone else believes or is in agreement with, sets you apart as significantly out of step with other people. It is this setting apart from the norm that guarantees attention.
If this argument is true, it means that the one who is more vocal taking an opposite viewpoint or refuses to adapt to something that everyone else has agreed to or bough into makes the complainer noticed. So, what doe this attention do? The attention received, in fact any attention be it negative or worse, is casting the one who complains into an elevated position in that they become a force to be reckoned with or a voice of dissent that needs to be quelled or a potential risk to the solidarity of the group that must be countered.
Who Is Responsible For Negativity?
The question of who is responsible for negative dialogue or acts that demonstrate that there is a real difference in opinion or acceptance of an idea is the person who is engaged in complaining. And, while it is true that the person can change from negative to positive only if they choose to, it is also true that if they see that there is no advantage to stop complaining than they won’t.
No one forces a person to be negative, and no one forces anyone to be positive. The choice is up to an individual and that person alone.
If you really want to change the outlook of a negative person for the better, you need to accept the basic principle that it is up to you. What I mean by this statement is that if you invite the complainer to have their say or speak about an issue well before anything is agreed upon then you will have demonstrated that the individual is worthwhile; or, that their involvement, their opinion, in fact, is worth soliciting.
The End Starts At The Beginning
I believe that complaining says more about a person’s level of insecurity than it says about a person who thinks that they are right and that everyone else is wrong.
Many years ago, I faced a similar challenge with one of my team members who always seemed to disagree with any change that was introduced. It didn’t seem to matter what was changed nor did it matter to this person that everyone else agreed to make the change recognizing both the worth of the change and the need for the change.
Whether it was a light bulb that went off in my head or whether it was simply the fact that every time a chane was made, I would have to spend a considerable amount of time and energy sitting with the person who voiced a steady wrath of complaints about the change trying to convince them that the change was merited and necessary. Maybe, I simply realized that I should put the end before the beginning. What does this mean, you might ask?
It meant that I finally recognized that some people require to have their personal needs met before any positive forward motion can be initiated. The needs for this particular person was the fact that they required to be consulted first before demonstrating to them that they had worth and that they had something meaningful to contribute.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. Was I simply giving in to a complainer because I was tired of having to deal with them or was I simply giving credence to the old adage that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”? Maybe I was and maybe I wasn’t.
I prefer to think that the attention this team member wanted was merited because they were one of the longest serving team members and, more importantly, they provided discerning and important comments that I came to realize were important viewpoints that should be considered before a final decision was made.
If you think that my attention to this individual was a way of avoiding future conflict, you’d be partially correct. If you think that I learned a valuable life lesson about showing consideration for each person, you’d also be correct.
The End Of Complaining
In the particular case that I previously spoke about it’s important to note what happened. As I continued to involve this former complainer in the beginning discussions of many issues that confronted the organization within which I worked, the complaints by this particular person subsided completely. In fact, the person who was once the loudest complainer became my strongest supporter in initiating any changes within the team structure.
Do Not Judge
So, what has this discussion demonstrated?
1) complainers have unmet needs
2) there is value in the person beyond the complaint
3) do not judge a complainer by their words but give them worth through recognition
4) recognition breaks down barriers to resolution
5) to stop complainers, stop judging their words
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
“Happily communicating our complaints to everyone except the people who need to hear them most is profoundly ineffective, yet all of us are guilty of the practice to some degree.” Guy Winch Ph.D., The Squeaky Wheel
“As you begin to do positive things, you will start to see a significant change in your behavior patterns that other people will also notice.” Mike C. Adams, Self Discipline
“Many people complain yet they don’t want to take action. They are quick to tell you all their problems, and hardships, yet they take no action to create a better situation. If you develop a goal, set an action plan and take action, you are closer to success than most.” Catherine Pulsifer, Credit and Action
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