Complaining is an act of verbal dissatisfaction. Complaining quickly becomes a habit, and frankly, it gets old to any of us on the receiving end.
I am focused on the chronic complainer for this second, not the person with a legitimate reason to voice their observations and feelings of frustration. I will share the definitions of the short- and long-term complainer in a minute.
Maybe you are a Complaining Cathy or Whining William, or perhaps you immediately thought of someone in your life who is. If I collected all the complaints or excuses I have heard over the decades as a coach, I would be rich enough to cure cancer or prove we may not have landed on the moon.
“It is too hot. The traffic is congested. I hate my job. Groceries are so expensive. My mattress sucks. The doctor doesn’t listen. The neighbor’s kids are too loud.” Blah Blah Blah.
We all moan and groan. I support conversation, which at times entails spells of whining and complaining, but you only get three chances with me. When I feel like I am witnessing a remake of the movie Groundhog Day, I blurt out, “What are you going to do about it?” It is my three strikes, you are out-ruled.
Whine, whine, whine equals assessment time.
If my ears must listen to your repetitive complaints, then you become blessed with a slew of rapid-fire questions. “Do you have a possible solution? What if you feel the same way tomorrow and the next day? Can you control what ticks you off?”
If you do not have control or cannot create a solution to your rants, then zip it. If you have the power and ability to find answers and choose not to, then you can also zip it. It is that simple. We don’t want to hear you, and I am pretty sure you probably don’t even want to listen to yourself. We can all find solutions if we want to, but many are not interested in resolution.
If it is summer – it is going to be hot. Can you change the season? No. Can you move, yup! If you know your mattress is hard, the likelihood of it still being firm tomorrow is high. Buy a new one or sleep on the couch. If you live in the city, welcome to traffic congestion. If you don’t like the government, vote, picket, or be part of the change.
The difference between a short-term and long-term-complainer seems obvious. Short-term complainers moan about a subject only a few times – not three dozen. A short-term complainer participates in diverse conversations, brainstorms strategies, and implements a solution when possible. They recognize when to let go of a topic and move on. Complaining might ramp up a bit for even the short-termer when they are sick or tired. That is normal. Being rundown doesn’t give us the energy to catch shooting stars and slide down rainbows every day, all day.
Long-term complainers are likely created; learned behavior. Along the way, they witnessed a family member or mentor being a chronic complainer. At some point, they realized the whining was giving them some pay-off, positive or negative attention; therefore, the habit continued. If you are a long-term complainer, your behavior has likely become such a part of your existence that you may be oblivious to the fact that you are annoying the snot out of every breathing soul in your zip code and beyond.
Complaining can also be controversial because it is often relative and can come across as insensitive. Complaining about the dog hair on the backseat of your Bentley is not comparable to someone complaining about walking to work every day who doesn’t own a car, nonetheless a Bentley. Complaining about living in a third-floor apartment might be justified to you, but not to someone who lost their home in a fire.
As I said, in most cases, complaining is a learned behavior. If you have been told you are a whiner or you find yourself speaking about the same subjects day in and day out, it is time to scramble soup your conversations. If you are a whiner, try to avoid topics you know you cannot change. If you complain about traffic, weather, and neighbors daily, stop talking about traffic, weather, and neighbors. Try it for a week.
Not everyone is born into the make lemonade out of lemons clan. Many people find the cup half empty rather than half full these days. But I have hope for you. Either find solutions to your stagnant mumbo jumbo or zip it.