I’m coming back from my complaint free journey, and this journey may have turned into a new personal adventure.
After listening to the guest speaker this week, I decided I definitely needed to challenge myself. After all, I have learned to stop (or avoid) complaining verbally, but I still feel those negative complaints in my head and keep them to myself… Complaining gives me a negative perspective on my day and how I interact with people. To summarize my first ten days of the complaint free challenge, I noticed the following things that would set me off:
- WORK – meetings that could have been an email, fire calls that turn into zero impact problems the next day…
- TRAFFIC – Ok, I live in Houston and work in Dallas (and a few other areas of the southern region)…two of the most congested cities in Texas. Of course people will cut me off, try to listen to the GPS rather than pay attention to surroundings, talk on conference calls, etc.
So here’s the deal- all of the complaining internally and verbally are over things I have little to no control over, BUT I could at the very least turn a ‘complaint’ into an opportunity. All it takes is a little communication and effort on my end…I know what you’re thinking…your complaints turn into more work for yourself, right? Not forever in my world.
Here’s my big ah-ha moment from the complaint challenge:
I’d been completing some assignments in an interim role due to limited resources. I noticed it takes me three times the amount of hours to complete one task because I can’t find any of the source materials, the person who usually performs these tasks is unavailable, AND the other resources on the team also do not know what’s going on. My work load was turning into an epic dilemma inside my head.
Cue the complaint journey meltdown. I had been internalizing my complaints until one day I exploded on a coworker who was quite literally just trying to help me figure out how to complete an assignment more easily. A swarm of guilt and internal ugliness came over me after I hung up the phone. My internal complaints had built up into these negative, hopeless feelings about work. We can all come up with better ideas of how I should have reacted to this.
I won’t say I’m perfect, but since I have recognized to stop internalizing complaints, I have begun to react differently to situations and instead find a way to make them better before they get worse. For instance:
- Meetings that could be an email – reach out to the meeting owner to get a better understanding of the meeting purpose. If possible, gather the missing information and help the meeting attendees make a decision faster so we can go about our work day. Win – win for everyone!
- Alleged ‘fire calls’ – get a better understanding of the fire call through a phone call or face to face conversation. Sometimes talking it through helps relieve the knee jerk reaction we sometimes have toward a situation. We can either come up with a better plan of action or realize the situation is not an emergency.
- Traffic – well…I am still working on this one. If I know I am going to be driving into work during typical traffic time, I make some coffee before I leave or stop halfway through to get myself out of the madness for a few minutes. Also, I try to put myself in the mindset that because I made the decision to drive to work during particularly awful time, I should cool my jets, listen to music, expect people to cut me off, and plan to drive in during an earlier time the next day. I still catch myself making that universal ‘what the —?’ motion at least once a day. I’ll get better!