We all do it – Grumble and moan about the things that just aren’t going right. Vent out the vitriol accumulated after some perceived wrongdoing. Or harbor a tendency to paint a situation in negativity, focusing on what is lacking rather than on what is there.
We all do it – We complain out loud and even in our own heads. We seek empathy and understanding and commiseration. “That must really suck. I’m sorry.”
We all do it – Sometimes even to the point of habit. A constant low-level whine of bellyaching. That eventually becomes tuned out by the listeners and turned up by the complainer.
Complaining has a place. It’s not reasonable or natural or even desirable to always see and speak of the sunny side. But complaining has a tendency to overstep its bounds. To act like a vapor in unbounded space, spilling into every crack and crevice.
So set some boundaries. Some rules.
The three golden rules of complaining:
1 – Does My Complaining Serve a Purpose?
Are you simply needing to to vent? Are you seeking commiseration? Are you wanting to motivate change, in yourself or others? Are you intending to highlight a transgression with the intention of increasing awareness?
Before you complain, become conscious of your goal. Even better, communicate your goal. And if there isn’t one, perhaps the words are best left unsaid.
2 – Am I Complaining To the Right Person?
If you are seeking change in somebody, that person is the one to speak to. If you are wanting to vent, make sure that you select a trusted ear that understands that words spewed in the heat of the moment may be more intense than intended. If you are looking for comfort, ensure that you don’t constantly complain to the same person; they will develop empathy fatigue after a time and your moans will have a diminishing return.
3 – How Will I Follow-Up?
In order for complaining not to become your default setting, it needs to be followed by either action, acceptance or release. Consciously choose one.
Or let go.