One Habit That’s Hurting Your Relationships and Career

Most of us focus on what we need to do. That’s good. But, what if some of the things we do are holding us back? Shouldn’t we work on those?

I realized this week how much I avoid people who complain. Then I realized that Icomplain too much. So I started thinking. Am I losing friends and influence every time I complain? How about you? And, what can we do to complain less?

I have a friend who likes to complain to me. I have been an empathetic sounding board. I have tried to help him generate solutions to his problems. I have simply nodded, said mmm a lot, and reflected back to him what he says. I’ve tried it all.

None of it seems to help. It’s the same thing every day. I now find myself looking for ways to avoid him. I think his boss is starting to feel the same way.

Doesn’t he see how this is hurting him? Doesn’t it make him miserable? What could he possibly get out of it that keeps him doing it?

As I was enjoying the view from my high horse it slowly dawned on me that I sometimes do this too. (And I’m a guy who blogs about personal development all the time!)

We all complain at times. It can really hurt our relationships in and out of the workplace. So why do we keep doing it? Complaining does have some positive outcomes.

  • It may make us feel better by “venting”
  • Someone may validate our feelings
  • It occasionally leads to someone else fixing the problem
  • You fit in with the other complainers

But the short and long-term consequences of complaining are way worse.

  • You lose friends and people avoid you
  • It leads to difficulty in your home life
  • You’re passed over for promotions or fired
  • You get fewer clients and sales
  • It contributes to a bad attitude and miserable life

I’m sure you can add to these lists.

Hold on, Greg, sometimes I need to complain. You don’t know what happened to me today!

Hey, I’m not the complaining Nazi. I get it. But how about greatly reducing your complaints and only doing complaining in a way that will help you?

Action Steps:

1) Keep track of every time you complain for one week. You need to know if this is a real problem for you. You might be shocked.

2) Start the day with the right mindset. Focus on all the good in your life. Who loves you? Who do you love? What makes you smile? You can find time to do this right when you wake up or on your commute to work. List what your grateful for. Pray. Before you poopoo this, try it. (I will not be poopooed!)

3) When you are about to complain, stop yourself. Use the A-B-C techniques in Rational Emotive Therapy to make sure you are thinking logically about the problem and responding rationally to it.

4) Turn your complaint into an idea for a solution. What can you do to fix the problem? Are you talking to the right person to fix it? Friends, family and bosses love people who have solutions. You’ll be surprised how often your solution, or something close to it, is implemented. Even if it isn’t, people will see you as a positive, solution oriented person instead of someone who complains all the time.

5) Find a complaint friend if you really have to vent. My wife and I do this for each other. We use each other to vent the big things that really tick us off. That way we don’t complain to everyone else. (Be careful here, we still limit how much we complain to each other or we will drive each other crazy.)

Question: What techniques do you use to minimize complaining?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that I view as rude, snarky, mean or off-topic. Hey, this is to support each other and have fun! Let's Go!

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