Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Message #21 - Complaining Doesn't Help

Listen closely to the conversations going on around you.  Or the conversations you’re having with others.  Here’s what you’ll hear:


I talked about Explanations in Message #12 (Stop Making Excuses.)  This is about complaints.  And my message is very simple – Complaining Doesn’t Help!

I’d be a great fan of complaining if it did any good.  If a complaint would change anything I’d recommend you complain all the time.  I’d say you should practice complaining, hone your complaint skills, and become a master complainer.  But alas, that’s not the way it works.  Your complaint won’t do any good.

Well, you say, at least it makes me feel better when I complain.  Really?  I doubt it.   In fact, by reinforcing your unhappiness about whatever is pissing you off you’re escalating your frustration level.  You’re confusing venting with feeling better.  That you’ve expressed yourself is a short-term palliative at best.

If I’m right, why do so many people do so much complaining?  Why would you continue to do what doesn’t work?  Well, think about it.  Since when do the people you know (or you) stop doing something just because it’s a waste of time?  Especially if you’ve deluded yourself into thinking it’s a good thing to do.  Or more likely, not even thinking about it at all, but just doing it because you’ve gotten into the habit of doing it.

Here’s one reason: You want people to agree with you.  You want allies for your point of view.  You want to tell me, “That’s just not fair,” and have me say, “You’re right.”  You take solace (kind of like a warm hug) if I agree that your injustice du jour is outrageous.  Your pain is eased.  Having a comforting friend almost makes your complaint worthwhile.  Almost, but not really.  When the hug stops what you’re complaining about still hasn’t gone away.

Here’s another reason: It’s easier to complain than to take action needed to fix whatever the problem is.  Let’s stay with an unfairness issue.  You think your boss is not treating you fairly.  Even if you realize that to handle the situation you’ve got to confront your boss, is that what you’ll do first?  Not likely.

First you’ll find somebody to complain to.  A co-worker, a spouse, a friend.  Probably whoever is closest at the moment.  You’ll pick someone who you think will agree with you.  That will validate your complaint.  You’ll then get a second opinion.  And you’ll be validated once more.  These heartfelt endorsements strengthen the rightness of your case.  So you’ll feel better.

It may be that the succor you’ve received has been so powerful that you’ll be deceived into thinking there’s nothing more you need to do.  Until the next day when (you perceive) your boss treats you unfairly and the process begins all over again.

Be careful.  You’re about to accuse me of being unfair by assuming your complaint is not valid.  I didn’t say that.  You may indeed have a lousy boss.  She may indeed be treating you unfairly.  You may indeed have reason to complain.  My message is that it will take more than a complaint to resolve your issue.  Your complaint is like stillborn verbiage.

Complaining Doesn’t Help!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Home Sweet Home!

I’m back! 

What is there to say after a month traveling far from home?

It’s wonderful being back in my nest.  Coffee that tastes good.  My own bed.  A great shower.  No need to pack and unpack every few days.  Everything to my liking.

Amazingly little change in the basic state of the world.  The same arguments are going on – between countries, political parties, personalities, groups.  The same issues are unresolved.  Yes, there are changes, some for the better, some for the worse, but they are incremental, not really fundamentally significant.

Local concerns get the most attention, here and in the places I visited.  The presidential election in France.  Murdoch in London.  The various existential threats facing the Israelis.  The poor economy in Sicily.  And everywhere, despite all the external noise, in the end people focus on what is closest to them – their family, their children, their job, their health.  And take solace where they find it.

To myself I say – Welcome Home!