When I say “chronic complainer” whose face comes to mind?
Chronic complainers have a negative force field, psychologists call them “sappers,” they need to get their negativity fix. They want you to be their conspirator. You need a way to quickly redirect conversations with them without turning them into enemies. One surefire way to stop a negative conversation is to define your boundaries.
Here are some ways to make it clear that you’re setting your limits:
- I hear what you’re saying. My personal guideline is to talk to the person if I have an issue and not talk about
- I understand how you feel about the “company safety standard,” I get the sense that you want me to agree with you. I really feel this safety standard is moving us in the right direction.
Another kind of negativity in the workplace is: taking sides and building camps. Camps form for different reasons. Sometimes they come from a clash of personalities. Other times camps crop up when groups or departments bump up against one another. For instance: the project team complains, “We need the equipment now.” Maintenance says, “The equipment needs to be checked out before it leaves the shop and we have to hold down our over time.” Because both parties are passionate about their points of view they will try to get you on their side. “Ops says the tie off rules are slowing us down. Safety says we must protect ourselves against unwarranted risk, fines and accidents.”
You can increase your power in dealing with these choices by speaking up and standing for the success of everyone. Make it known that you’re a member of every group and the success of the enterprise. People who are entrenched in a particular camp won’t like it; they have a choice to reject you as a member of their camp or accept you as someone who is vocal about your commitment to the success of the company.
Here is how to say no when others try to get you to take sides:
- When they say management really blew it with this decision, you can respond, “I hope not. I have a different view on management’s decision.”
- When they say, “That group is hopeless, they have no concept of deadlines,” you can respond, “It’s important to keep deadlines. I’m glad they’ve always kept their deadlines with me.”
- When they say, “The reason our team doesn’t look good is because the maintenance department is out to get us,” you can respond, “That’s a strong statement. My experience is different. I have a good partnership with maintenance.”
What if you find yourself as the chronic complainer? Write down a list of what is truly bothering you. Circle the things you can change with the resources you have available. Highlight what you have no control over and discuss them with your manager. Complaining is safe, weak and doesn’t create change. Communicating with your team about the issues at hand raises the entire team to beat the bid!