Humans' most basic connection with several other mammals is the need to live in groups. Over time the ability to choose the right tribe can help shape up our beliefs and personality for a better or worse. While it’s hard sometimes to define the best criteria to define a great group to join — I find one thing important to avoid at all cost:
FREQUENT EXPOSURE TO COMPLAINING
Whether you are part of a group of 1 or 100 people, you must avoid it. It’s negative and leads to low performance. As a leader, advise your teams not to do it, do not do it yourself and steer you all away from it.
When someone dislikes or disapproves something what do they do? Take action to address it or just tell 10 other people about it? While there is nothing wrong with the latter when someone is complaining all the time without applying any effort to change the situation — it becomes a disguised way to excuse one from accountability. A form of procrastination for not doing harder work or addressing what is under control. For example how many people complain about their companies and bosses for too long and when asked if they tried to find a new job the answer is no….The same applies for a product or service whose experience has not been positive for a client in years. In many cases a complainer will whine more but never spend time writing a formal review on the web, call a store manager or even find a new vendor to address it. If a complaint is reasonable because you felt treated unfairly it’s your own responsibility to take actions that will fix it for you first before you let 10 other individuals who have nothing to do with that know how you felt. Actually without realizing you may be annoying people and creating a perfect condition for getting ejected from the group.
People should also have a chance to see if they are regularly complaining. Criticizing a person’s behavior as a way to justify why the group has to unite to remove someone does not make it any better — especially if no one has ever given any direct feedback about the undesired attitude. Spot complainers quickly but with respect and dignity. Complaining is a bad habit like smoking. If someone comes to your place for dinner and lights up a cigarette in the living room it won’t be hard to say how you feel if nobody in your family smokes. The same should apply for complainers in action next to you.
Because our brains love efficiency when people repeat a behavior, neurons branch out to each other to facilitate the flow of information. Science says “neurons that fire together, wire together”. This makes it easier and easier for people to complain more and more without realizing it.
In the end you cannot reform a person, thus if your feedback does not work find another group for you or a new one to refer to the complainer. Like any bad habit, complaining is a plague — it will not be hard to be contaminated if you get exposed for too long.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE FREQUENT COMPLAINERS AT WORK AND IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?