I am constantly blown away by my observation that people in organizations – at all levels – prefer to complain and whine about the things they are not happy about rather than doing something about it.
In fact, when things don’t work effectively, people tend to spend more time covering their behind – i.e., making sure everyone in the universe knows it is not their fault, instead of trying to figure out how to fix the problem.
That is why people rarely step up to outright declare, “You can count on me – I will fix this!” Instead, they prefer to copy the entire universe on their self-protection emails… or as these are referred to – C.Y.A. or “cover your ass”.
This behavior is very pervasive. I see and hear it everywhere, every day.
In fact, I was in an airport taking a flight the other day. It was not a busy time, so hardly any people in the line. As I was going through security, I couldn’t help but hear the security staff whining and complaining about their supervisor. One of them went on and on about how their supervisor didn’t give them enough time to go to the bathroom. Another added her own criticism about the fact that the supervisor reprimanded her for not doing her job correctly. They were feeding off of each other in a frenzy. It went on for 5 minutes.
First of all, I felt embarrassed for them. It wasn’t appropriate for them to have that conversation in front of the customers – me. However, I guess they were so upset and resigned they didn’t even think about that.
More importantly, I wanted to interrupt and ask: “Did you speak with your supervisor about these issues?. Did you try and do something to correct these small easy-to-fix issues?” However, I didn’t. I am sure the answer would have been a resounding, “NO!”
Everywhere I go, I people-watch and can sometimes find myself inadvertently eavesdropping on conversations. Obviously, I don’t do it rudely or inappropriately, but people tend to speak loudly when they are passionate or upset about something, so I pick up on it – probably an occupational hazard.
It seems that everywhere I go people are complaining and whining about their hardships, rather than making attempts to do something productive about it.
After all, why take responsibility when you can be a victim and blame others for the issues. It is so much easier to exist this way.
However, being a victim comes with a hefty price. Primarily, you stay small, you lose your power to shape and influence your circumstance, and you feel resigned.
The good news is that anyone can change their orientation at will. If you are fed up with the powerless conversations, change the channel, and start engaging in powerful conversations.
This means start making clear and direct requests; it may require you to promise things in return. In addition, it means stop participating in the around-the-cooler bitching sessions, which don’t make any tangible difference other than promoting self-righteousness.
You always have a choice when you are unhappy about your circumstances or predicaments – you can just complain or actually do something about it!