As an engineer, I have had my fair share of setbacks: meetings that went terribly wrong, disagreements that festered at the emotional level, failure to convince management to agree and act, and ethical issues that kept me awake at night. When I look back over an engineering career of 30 years, two of the personal negative character traits I have had to learn to improve are:
- Less than adequate listening skills
- A tendency to cope with failures by complaining.
I previously wrote an article on listening skills and the ways I stay focused on improving this critical communication skill.
In 2013 National Speakers Association of North Texas (NSA/NT) Past President Linda Byars Swindling wrote a book titled, Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers. This book is a resource that I wish I had 30 years ago when I embarked on an engineering career.
The following is an article written by Linda on this subject that is relevant whether you are just entering the workforce or are a seasoned employee or leader.
To stop complaining and start contributing, remember the following:
- Identify the issue. We all complain in some form when the going gets tough. Pinpoint the Energy Drains creating your stress. Acknowledge any unmet needs and admit your current coping strategies aren’t working. To find out how frequently you complain, take the free assessment Am I Seen as a Complainer?
- Watch your behavior. See when the complaining appears the most. Are you trying to relate with others, maintain stability, be noticed, or get things done? Are you under stress? Are you dealing with Energy Drains?
- Understand strengths. Learn your talents and value to communicate powerfully and contribute effectively. Explore self-development and training. Seek objective feedback and help, including expert opinions or medical advice if needed.
- Be proactive. Adopt a problem-solving manner that allows you to contribute to others and your organization. It’s natural to want to “fix” your whining colleagues, as I discussed in this recent Voice of Russia article. Form supportive relationships and construct appropriate personal boundaries.
The good news is that you are not alone in complaining. Enlightened Complainers often choose to stop. You can do a good turn and turn that complaining off. To have a breakthrough, ask yourself:
- If I could communicate in a way that people heard me and helped me achieve my goals, what would be possible for me in my career, in my relationships, and at home and work?
- How could I show up powerfully and assertively while still being diplomatic?
- What would the most influential person I know do in this situation?
- What would be the best next step to propel me forward personally and professionally?
- What unique strengths or talents can I contribute and develop?
When you learn to communicate more effectively, people gravitate to you, connect with you, let down their guard, and listen to your requests. And that’s doing a great turn daily!
Journey On and No Complaints!
Linda Byars Swindling – A recognized authority on negotiations, workplace issues and high stakes communication, Linda Byars Swindling, is an author, media expert, a “recovering” employment attorney, and a Certified Speaking Professional. The creator of the popular Passports to Success book series and author of the book Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers: How to Negotiate Work Drama to Get More Done, Linda speaks at conventions, associations and companies throughout the country. She can be reached by email at Zan@LindaSwindling.com or (214) 536-6666.