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By John Pitts

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Complaining – Why it Can Only Exist with Solutions

As a business owner and leader, there are many things to consider when calculating the path to success. At Tekcetera, we value productivity, results, task-orientation, loyalty (both employee and client), critical thinking skills, a positive team environment and doing what it takes to ensure satisfaction – to name a few. However, the path to success is not without roadblocks. Some of which are obvious, others are not. In my experience, two of the most detrimental things to a business are perpetual complainers and complaining without a solution. You’ve met the perpetual complainer before. You know, the person that sees only the negative, always has a problem, brings personal issues to work, the list goes on and on.

Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that complaining without a solution has been on the rise. As a business owner, you expect some complaining and of course I can handle complaints –as long as they are constructive and have a solution. Additionally, to put it frankly, not stopping the “perpetual complainer” can be detrimental to workplace productivity and cripple a business. Inc. Magazine recently found that individuals who had 30 minutes of exposure to consistent negativity actually peeled away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus – the problem solving section!

So, why is complaining without a solution bad? Here are a few reasons:

Expansion – that’s right, complaining for the sake of complaining only makes the situation worse and acts as a poison. The complaint could start with a simple, small issue and by continuing to focus on the negativity, the poison spreads and suddenly everything is an issue. And the negativity doesn’t stay with just one person, it engulfs the entire office. Suddenly the work space which was full of happy people at 8:30 a.m. is now cloaked in sullen negativity by 10:45 a.m.

Black Listing – while complaining without a solution can spread across an office like wildfire, it can also get the perpetual complainer black listed. Continuous negativity and complaining can wear on other employees who can only take so much. And when the limit is reached, employees will choose to cut the negativity out – along with the negative person which leads to a void in attention. When team members proactively choose to tune the complaining or perpetual complainer out it creates the potential for errors and allows for bigger problems to go unnoticed, as no one is listening anymore. The complainer is the boy who cried wolf.

We know that complaining is part of human nature, so how can we limit its affects? It all comes down to one fundamental thing, understanding the difference of bringing attention to an issue, situation or matter and complaining without a solution.

Before you complain, think through what your solution to that complaint would be. I guarantee you that it is the first thing your boss, manager, or CEO is going to ask you. Not satisfied with a situation? Identify what would satisfy you and map out a way to achieve it. Have a problem? Use your critical thinking skills to determine what will solve it and do it. Bringing personal issues to work? Leave them at the door, use your time in the office to focus on your clients and projects; you’ll undoubtedly go home with a clearer head to resolve your issues.

Put yourself in the shoes of your team members and manager. If someone was bringing a complaint to you, what would you want to hear?

How do you handle complaints without a solution or the perpetual complainer in your office? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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