Updated: Apr 27, 2022
Tackling corporate bitching is no small feat.
I have some effective methods I use to curtail this soul stealing behavior. These tools work at every level and are particularly important for leaders owners, and executives.
First, I’ll share some insights on whining at work.
Whining/complaining/venting is a behavior rooted in our negativity bias. It’s tough to break a habit engrained in our human psych. It takes attention and a commitment to choosing a better action.
Why shouldn’t we whine at work? The obvious answer is that it creates a toxic culture.
Whining also undermines your ability to be seen as a leader. I can usually tell when a person has reached a level of maturity required to lead a team when they have stopped complaining. Full Stop. No complaining.
How does one reach this level of awareness and maturity? By managing your mind. Here’s my toolkit:
Create space between trigger and action. Just slow the F down. Let your brain catch up with your emotions. Never jump on a call or email when you have been triggered.
In this space do “The Work” (Byron Katie)
The Work is a process that involves writing down troubling thoughts and then asking four questions:
Is it true?
Can I absolutely know it is true?
How do I react when I think that thought?
Who would I be without the thought?
3. Now, with the emotions that are remaining you may engage others professionally.
But first, decide what you want to outcome of engagement to be.
Some examples are:
Consideration/approval of your proposed solution
Letting others know you are aware of a problem and providing support/empathy
I want to be heard
I want to be heard is not the same as venting. To me, venting is half cocked, emotional, and not tied to any clear outcome. When you just vent, it’s garbage in and garbage out.
I want to be heard requires you to know what about this situation is important to you. You have already filtered it through ‘The Work.’
When you do engage a team or individual on your team, be clear about the goal of the conversation up front. That will allow the other person to hold you accountable to the desired outcome.
I'd be remiss if I did not state that happy hour does not absolve you from responsibility. Leaders don't engage in whining at happy hour either.
I have a caveat to this opinion on venting. All people need some kind of outlet to express emotion. But your employees, peers, and leaders are not the best recipient. I believe a good friend or a coach is the place to take the raw stuff. Specifically, a coach is trained to hear you and get you to a productive outcome. You may believe your complaints, but we don’t!
Many successful CEO’s have a relationship with a business coach that provides a safe and productive space for emotions. This allows leaders to show up as leaders, not firecrackers.
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