“How to Complain”
One of the most effective tools in life that one can possess would be the ability of how to properly complain to their superior. Some people are amazing at complaining, but there is a method to this seemingly simple trait to actually make your voiced opinions heard by management in which they won’t get upset with you for being bitter about your job.
Let’s look a little bit deeper into complaining and some basic analysis. I like to consider people who simply complain whiners. These are the people who just seem to want something to complain about and just can’t seem to be happy about anything in their employment. These are the anchors of the team, and I’m not speaking of anchors that keep a ship docked or steady, I’m speaking in the metaphorical sense of when the mafia will throw you into the water with an actual anchor tied to your ankles so that you can’t swim (aka Cement Shoes) . These strict complainers are the people that make everything more difficult by decreasing morale, depleting productivity and destroying any form of empowerment instilled by the company. These are the dangerous employees, and even one is enough to start tearing apart your team. So how can we correct the “Negative Nancy” group and what is the proper way to complain?
As I said before, proper complaining is an art as well as a science; you can be graceful with you complaining while being factual and precise if you follow the proper formula. I love to have meetings with my managers every other week. Growing up under a creative problem solver; my father, can really open your eyes into how to manage issues and correct problems before they grow too large. It is from the bit of his work that I had the pleasure of being involved with that I was able to learn firsthand how to have a meeting with people of all different backgrounds and discuss alternative approaches into how to solve problems, and this is exactly what must be done when you have a complaint. Complaining is really just a nuisance unless you can then establish solutions to these problems. My philosophy is that if I’m going to complain, I’m also going to have some solutions to offer. This not only impresses the people above you, but it also takes care of most of the problem for them, at least if they appreciate your solution enough to actually implement it. (Beware: Some managers use the tactic of taking the solution and making it their own by sitting on it a bit or changing it a bit and saying that it was their idea.)
So that’s really it, the key to complaining is to have solutions ready to solve the problems you’re having, it makes you look better, and shows that you have the ability to grow in your career and assist in larger decision making. But what about those co-workers who complain redundantly? There must be a way to mold them into effective problem solvers, right? Well it’s a bit of an uphill battle, as it usually is when dealing with a pessimist, but my approach to these types of workers is to confront them when they begin to complain, not in a confrontational manner, but in such a way that makes them either vocalize their solution or will get them to actually think about the situation and come up with a solution that could make sense. Once you do this there are a few roads that can be taken; there is the potential that they will actually come up with a solution, there is also the outcome of them realizing that they sound ridiculous in their complaining when they realize the solution is by correcting what they are doing, or they will become enraged and begin to complain about you. Regardless of any of these outcomes I would say that they are all better than what was happening before.
Remember that big problems typically started off small. The best way to solve them are to break them down and work on small aspects of the problem. Do this with an end state in mind and know that it will take time to get to a final solution. Crucial when solving workplace or group problems is communication and enlisting support.
So now your problem is to find a problem, whine a bit and then start to work on it!