An occupational hazard of most any leader is The Complainer. Complaints and complaining come with the territory when you’re leading out in front or pushing from behind. Complaints often mean a leader is doing something right. And yet the thought that you’re doing something right doesn’t always take away the sting or frustration.
The problem becomes partly my own. When I allow complaints and complainers to bother me, upset me, or bring me down I admit that it’s not helpful. Many years ago I worked with someone who used the old passive-aggressive tactic of telling me that “a few people” were complaining about me. I laid awake at night wondering what I had done. I began to have some health issues as these “complaints” wore on. I obsessed over what I could do to resolve the whole situation. Needless to say it was unresolvable because I’m convinced it was never true in the first place.
At any rate, it made me resolve to never (to the best of my ability) be a public complainer. I have studied the complainers that I encounter. I have tried to abate my own temptations to complain. As I have done these two things I have learned that there are three entirely more helpful and constructive things one can do instead of complaining:
- Instead of complaining figure out a way that you can help fix the problem. It’s easy to open your mouth and complain. It’s far more difficult to actually figure out a plan of action to resolve the issue. It’s not easy but it’s far more beneficial for you, your organization, your leader, and other people to improve a situation rather than attacking it.
- When you figure out a way to fix the problem volunteer to do it. Once you’ve figured out the way to “fix” a problem be bold enough to volunteer to carry out your plan. Speak to your leaders or influencers. Let them know you’ve noticed something that could be improved (yes, use that language). Then be the first to volunteer to carry out the steps that will resolve the issue. You have no idea how much weight that will take off of a leader’s shoulders.
- As you attempt to fix the problem yourself enlist others to join you in fixing the problem and proclaiming the positive. Can you imagine what it would look like in your church, organization, or workplace if significant numbers of people would come together to create something positive? Can you imagine what it would look like if a critical mass of people in your church, organization, or workplace would speak out in a positive way? Can you imagine what it would look like if a large portion of people in your church, organization, or workplace would be the solution to the “problems” instead of the complainers?
If you want to see what this would all look like take a look at the philosophy of none other than Zig Ziglar. One of his most famous quotes is:
You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people to get what they want.
How can you become part of the solution today?