Gossiping, complaining, ranting – call it what you want, but it’s all toxic. It doesn’t make you feel good inside and it doesn’t make others around you feel good. When you try to make a conscious effort to refrain from negative conversations, you may come to realize that it’s actually a lot harder than you think. Our closest friends, colleagues and family members that we talk with everyday might be “that” person and you might be the person that they go to with all their problems. And sometimes you might be the complainer. How do you stop the madness? I think the challenge we are all faced with is finding the strength to address the negativity. So how do we do it?
First, I think we have to understand where the person is coming from. I thought back to some negative conversations I’ve recently been in and tried to think of what was the underlying core reason why this person was so upset that they had an urge to complain about it to someone. If we understood this, we can better prepare ourselves to address it.
When we’re not happy with ourselves, we tend to complain about others. You should know what I’m talking about because we’ve all probably done it at some point in our lives. I was in a recent conversation where a friend of mine was badgering another person on their choices in life. “I can’t believe they did this,” or “I think that was such a poor choice and I am so disappointed,” and in reality, the decisions made by the person they were complaining about had zero effect on my friend. So why complain about it? Who cares? I started thinking about my friend that was doing the complaining and recall that they’ve been unhappy lately with a variety of events going on in their life. I think when this happens, we feel like we want others to be unhappy too. It’s hard to see others happy when you’re unhappy. (And being heavily involved in the social web doesn’t help much either)
The best thing to do is ask this person how they are doing. Remember specific goals or aspirations they have and ask them about it. They might list reasons on why they haven’t been able to accomplish some things and that’s when you dissect those reasons and help them overcome them.
Lack of Purpose
I was in a meeting with someone (that inspired me to write this post) where they were flustered by the fact that others were not picking up their slack. You could tell it really bothered this person. They asked, “How does this not bother you?” It took me a minute to answer but when I answered, I realized the reason why this person was complaining.
Slackers bother us because we’re not receiving personal fulfillment with the work we’re doing. Think about it for a second. If you went about your day, doing what you’re passionate about, making a difference and having fun – why would you care if someone else were not doing their work? The reason it bothers you is because you don’t find value in the work you’re doing. You feel like if you’re putting time in, someone else better be putting in the same amount of time and energy. For whatever reason, you feel obligated to work on something that you don’t want to work on and you want others to feel the same pain you feel.
So next time someone complains to you about a slacker, ask them this, why do you do what you do? Redirect their attention to self-reflection. If this person can find true fulfillment with what they are doing everyday, they might forget about what others are doing (or not doing). And if they aren’t, then maybe this will start motivating them to get going on something they actually want to do. This is only better for the world out there (can you imagine the level of productivity?)
I’ll use myself for this example (not gonna lie – I’ve done my share of complaining) I’ve been in a situation being around someone that really bothered me. I think what bothered me the most about this person is that I felt like every conversation was a competition. They wanted to have the last word and they always wanted to be right (sound familiar?). It was exhausting. For me, since I am not confrontational, I held back my words but just because I did, didn’t mean I held back my thoughts. Thoughts that would carry with me all day long and all night long. My brain was so fixated on all the things ‘I could have said.’ What a waste of time and energy to be thinking about it so much. I took this person’s comments so personally. What I’ve come to realize is that this person was this way with everyone, it was who they were. Over the years I have been able to overcome this negativity by either addressing my thoughts in words in conversations with this person or just taking their words ‘with a grain of salt.’ It really takes mental exercise to remove yourself from the tiny details and view this person from a place much higher than where you’re at. I got here because my husband would always say, ‘ I think you’re thinking too much into it.’ And I totally was.
So next time you hear someone complain about the same person over and over, ask them if they are like that with everyone. Have them monitor how this person is with others and if it’s the same interaction then they’ll know it’s not personal and hopefully will start helping them overcome being so bothered.
These are just a few reasons why I think people complain and ways to redirect the conversation. Of course, some people are just naturally complainers and there’s nothing we can do about it but just avoid it. I know it’s hard when it’s someone close to you but if you’re not receiving positive fulfillment of being in that relationship, why be in it? Aren’t relationships meant to help you be a better person?