One of my personal goals this year is to stop being so negative. Looking back on my blog posts from last year, there were too many where I complained about things without offering good solutions. I even did it in an email this morning (sorry Jorge).
Complaining takes a lot more energy than actually doing something. Complaining drains your emotional, spiritual and physical energy.
So what can you do to stop a spirit of complaining?
First you need to realize that you’re asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking questions like:
Why aren’t things moving the way I want them to?
Why isn’t this getting done?
Why are things done this way?
you should ask questions like:
What can I do to move this along?
What can I do to improve this process?
What can I do to make this happen?
If you’re having trouble asking the right questions, you can just follow this advice:
If something is within your sphere of influence, just fix it. If the dishes aren’t getting done, do them. If the code isn’t getting reviewed, find someone to review it. If the bug isn’t getting fixed, fix it. Complaining about something that you can immediately fix is a waste of time and energy. We’ve all seen people spend more time complaining and discussing a problem than it would have taken to actually fix it.
If something is outside your sphere of influence, stop complaining about it unless you’re going to do something to change it. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about who got elected. And once someone is elected, complaining doesn’t accomplish anything. Become part of a grass roots movement, or get involved in the process. Don’t just stand on the sidelines and complain.
If you do feel that you really need to complain, don’t bring a complaint, bring a solution, maybe even more than one. People will be a lot more willing to listen to you if you’re not just complaining all the time.
Finally, read the book: QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life. It’s an absolute must read on personal accountability.