Have you ever noticed how some people seem to have a talent for complaining and moaning?  There is always something wrong or they feel that it’s always another person who is causing all the problems in their life.  They tend to wallow in victimhood and feel everything is unfair.  If not managed, these individuals can quickly create a toxic environment and drag the rest of your people down.  In fact, their energy can contaminate a whole office as soon as they walk in.  

It is interesting to note that most of them are oblivious of the fact that they spend most of their time complaining and the affect this has on others.  Their fellow workers rarely give them feedback about their relentless moaning because it is not worth the hassle.  It is easier to avoid getting infected by their negative energy. 

Don’t create disgust

As a leader or manager it is dangerous to tolerate this sort of behaviour.  If you don’t address it you could lose your best people because they can’t be bothered to put up with it.  In a very tight labour market with lots of job offers flying around it can be very easy for good people to be tempted away.  There is also some scientific evidence which shows that if a manager or leader does not address unwanted behaviour it creates a sense of disgust within the team because it is deemed unfair.  It can also give the impression that the company values are just meaningless words that have no bearing on daily work and this can undermine your integrity as a Leader. 

So here are seven tips for managing your moaners: 

  • Stop complaining yourself - Be a role model for your people.  If you do have a complaint think carefully about who you express it to.  Figure out what needs to change and take appropriate action. 
  • Let your people know that you don’t find complaints or moans useful - But be clear that you are happy to hear about issues and challenges that may be getting in the way of producing high standards, as long as they come with some suggestions for improvement. 
  • Find out what is really bothering them - A complaint is often a symptom of a deeper concern or upset.  What is lying behind their moaning?  Why do they feel disempowered? 
  • Insist that people change their complaint into a clear request - What is the outcome that they want?  What do they need to do to get it? What is a first actionable step that they can take to address the issue? 
  • Ask them to become a positive solution-oriented person with you - They may find this odd or ‘unrealistic’ but it’s about helping them to see what is in their control to change.  Their attitude and thinking is always within their control to change.  They may benefit from some mindfulness and resilience training. 
  • If your boss or leader is the one complaining and moaning – get another job! - Life is too short to put up with a complaining boss.  If they are complaining to you, especially about things that are out of your control, they are demonstrating their incompetence and you are better off finding a more inspirational place to work. 
  • Listen very carefully to customer complaints as a way to improve service and profits - If a customer has taken the time and effort to make a complaint it means they care about you and your business.  They want to see improvements and believe you can make them.  There is plenty of evidence that a well-handled complaint can create loyal and long-term customers who tell others about how well you responded. 

An uncomfortable reality

It may be an uncomfortable reality for some people but we can always choose how we respond to the situations we find ourselves in.  When we are mindful, we can step back from the emotional charge which is often based on some pre-programmed reaction from our early life experiences.  Once we step back it is easier to observe our reactions with a sense of curiosity.  This calms our mind and gives us more access to our unique creativity and resourcefulness to find appropriate solutions to the challenges we face.  Moaners are simply oblivious to this level of awareness. 

We have recently been helping a number of clients gain valuable insights into their own behaviour and the behaviour of their team.  With new levels of awareness leaders, managers and people can take more responsibility for their behaviour.  This empowers them to make some small adjustments and gain big wins by choosing more effective behaviour and getting better results.  If you would like to explore how to get the best from your people please contact Gloria at admin@InspiredWorking.com and arrange a time to have a chat. 

Remember, especially as you encounter a moaner . . . stay curious! 

With best regards,

David Klaasen

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