This is a hard goal. How to recognize when things are deficient (no, Comcast, I can’t prove I don’t have a piece of equipment I don’t have. Can you prove I ever had it?) without attaching to that deficiency and letting it rule my mood/hour/day?
I don’t want to let go of my standards but I also want to get out of the negativity rota too. I’m not sure what to do.
I’m not sure if the amount of fault finding and complaining I do is contributing to or is a result of my current negative outlook on life (or even if that is an “or” at all). What I do know is that it has to stop.
It’s so easy to complain, to find fault. I am over invested in things I that don’t matter because I feel like I have no control or say in the things in my life that do matter. I am trying to exercise control through complaining and all it’s doing is making me miserable.
I have no tactics to stop this that don’t border on self-abuse. I don’t know how to start but I have to.
We are encouraged not to complain, to bear up and do the work whatever that might be. This why everyone knows that if you really want something done give it to the busiest person in the office. But what is the line between complaining and objecting to unreasonable expectations?
I’ve been handed a massive project at my new job, something for which the internal client has given us virtually no direction but a vague idea of the subject matter. They just shoved a shocking amount of money at us and said “we want a website on this topic.” The only stated timeline was “about a year.” Now we find out that another division is having a massive event around this topic at the end of June.
My group has turned big projects around in that short a time frame. The way they did it was by working three really key people about 20 hours a day for 7 days a week for about 3 weeks. That is unreasonable. No question. It’s something I won’t stand for or do. So if that becomes the expectation – work a horrendous amount of time with no guidance or framework – is speaking out about it complaining? I think not.
I find that I complain less when I say what I’m really thinking in a fairly unvarnished way.
For example: I have an internal client who keeps requesting something unreasonable. We just don’t have the capacity to do what she wants. And I keep telling her this, and have been for the past two years. Yet, last week she requested the same thing again.
Now, I could complain. I could ignore her (which is what I’m doing right now) but when this finally comes up instead of getting angry I will very calmly say: “Asking the same question repeatedly isn’t going to change the answer. There’s still only one person in my department which means we still don’t have the capacity to fulfill your request. When that changes, I’ll let you know.”
I’m going to test the “unvarnished truth” tactic and see how it works. At the very least I think it will help me be less angry all the time.
By simply stating what is wrong instead of complaining about it (e.g. “John never makes a deadline.” vs. “John is a jerk who holds up all the work that needs to be done.”) I am doing better with this. I’m also doing better by looking for solutions.
The downside is that by letting go, which is necessary for me to stop complaining, I seem to be letting go of everything. I have to fix that.
I tried this in November and did moderately well for a couple of weeks. I wish I could blame the holidays but they were oddly not stressful last year.
So, a new month starts tomorrow so I’m going to try this again starting tomorrow. My strategy: acknowledge facts, even if they are unpleasant, and figure out what my proper response should be (action or inaction). After that, take the proper response.
We’ll see how it goes.
One of the comics I read Retail centers around Marla, the put upon assistant manager at the fictional Grumbels Department store. For the holiday season, Marla is trying to maintain a positive mental attitude which means doing away with her usual sarcasm.
It didn’t occur to me that sarcasm is a form of complaining until I read this.
I find that I feel better, that I move through challenges more easily when I don’t complain about them, and I find it hard not to slip into complaining mode, particularly with one coworker around.
I need to set my mind to this goal more fully as I’ve already seen the benefits. December is another month, after all.
My employer did a second round of layoffs last Friday and while I still have a job, I am a department of one again.
It is difficult not to complain about management’s failings when they are so obviously missing steps that would be better for the organization’s long term health.
To do this, I have to focus on what is in front of me, on the day-to-day tasks that need to be done. And I also have to redraw my boundaries and remind myself that every problem is not mine to solve because complaining is just a way of engaging problems over which I have no control, problems I should not be engaging in the first place.
The not complaining experiment has been going well. It has lead to a lot of honesty which I’m frankly surprised at; I thought I was basically a “tell it like it is” kind of person anyway.
Had a small slip today, though. I caught myself complaining about a project. It felt bad while I was doing it. There is a lesson here.
Today was the first day my month of not complaining experiment got tested in the real world (weekends are easy; they are under my control. no subway hassles, no work related foolishness).
One of my co-workers did a 15 minute barrage of complaints not more than 5 minutes after she got to work today (our building sucks because the elevators take too long, she has too much work, her commute is hell (it is but it’s also her choice to live 3 hours from where she works)) and listening to it felt like I was being physically battered. It felt good to not engage, to not get caught in that spiral of powerlessness.
More experiment to follow the rest of the month.