The Complaints of Others


Yes, I would like a complaint free world. As I stated yesterday, I am still working on that complaint free me. We did conclude with the realization that only we can control our own habit of complaining. The “Complaint Free World” approach of moving a wrist band from one wrist to another is a great form of personal accountability to shape our own behavior.

What about the complaints of others? Since we can not control other people’s habits, we can only control our own responses. It is helpful to remember that we have different options when other people complain so we don’t fall into the socially accepted pattern of complaining ourselves.

The first thing that we should consider when a friend or colleague starts to complain to us is that person’s possible motivation to complain. Do they want to complain for the sake of complaining? Are they complaining because they are in a challenging situation and are seeking emotional validation? Are they complaining about a situation in the hopes that someone has a possible solution? The second thing we should consider is how close the relationship is of the “complainer” to ourselves. For example, if a stranger in front of us in a line starts complaining about how frustrating the wait is, we should not feel compelled to join the chorus of “this line is a pain”.

For the “constant complainer” that we know, it would be appropriate to acknowledge their concerns as well as setting boundaries.

“I hear your concern about the new procedures. I now need to finish my project before my deadline”.

For someone complaining about a life situation where they have no control and appear to desire some emotional validation, it would be appropriate to demonstrate compassion and understanding about their feelings. You are not obligated to complain yourself.

“I can understand how tough it is. I can only imagine how your are feeling right now. That seems to be a really challenging situation”.

One of my personal challenges is that I sometimes do now intuitively know the difference when someone is complaining about something just to vent and feel heard or if that person is seeking advice or assistance. For these situations it is beneficial to listen intently to the person’s concerns. When if feels appropriate, you could ask if the other person needs assistance in this matter.

I would appreciate any comments on how you choose to respond to the complaints of others.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

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3 Comments to “The Complaints of Others”

  1. Something came to me as I was reading this and thinking about how I use to be and people I kind of avoid now — “habitual complainers” lol. Complaining because it’s a habit instead of really having anything to vent about. Venting with a friend once in a while to let off steam and get a sanity check is not a big deal…when it’s a habit….not so much. With how I try to live now, being around complainers/negative people is a real turn off for me. Good article as always!

  2. Thanks for this post. I find what works for me is saying, “I hear you. That sounds difficult, What can I do to help you?” By saying this, I find I am getting the person to think about why they are complaining… is it just to vent? Is it for validation? Do I have a skill to offer that they are looking for? Not only does this work for me with others, it also works for me with me and when I am complaining if others use it on me, it immediately makes me think and usually my response is: “I just needed to vent.” The best response to that is, “Venting acknowledged.”

    Great post!

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