Complaining and Responsibility

Chief Happiness Officer Alexander Kjerulf is writing a series of blog entries about who has the right to complain. In thinking about responsibility and complaining, I'm quite sure that every human has the inalienable right to complain anytime about anything. No qualms there.

And, as a quick aside, I certainly realize there are laws and policies governing complaining such that your choices in some countries or other settings might be somewhat constrained. A friend of mine tells a story about a team building company in Asia named "I Will Not Complain." The employees of the company didn't like the management, so in recognition of the double-bind they were in, instead of complaining they quit and formed a strong network of team-building consultants across Asia.

Back to the topic…here are some thoughts I have about Responsibility and Complaining:

  1. Catching myself complaining is a sure sign that I'm not getting what I want. The real power is not in the complaint but in pursuing clarity about what I want that I'm not getting.
  2. Complaining about a person or a system (i.e., American academia, as in the bloggers example) is a sure sign that I'm in Lay Blame or Justify. The assumption in these positions of irresponsibility is that my life won't get better until someone else changes. Not a very powerful position.
  3. When I indulge in complaining, I feel heavy, needy, and depressed. When I indulge in identifying what I want that I can do something about, I feel lighter,resourceful, and joyful. I prefer the latter.
  4. If I have a problem for which I can identify something that someone else can do to help me address the problem, asking that person for specific assistance and support is far more likely to get me what I want than is complaining. If I merely complain ("waiter, there is a fly in my soup") without asking for what I want ("please bring me a fresh bowl of soup") then I am at the mercy of his response to my complaint ("no charge for the extra protein").
  5. People and businesses who understand this principle respond to your complaints by asking what they can do that will satisfy you. This places the responsibility for your satisfaction back on you, assuming they act on your request.

What do you think?

Posted in Responsibility on 08/12/2007 10:07 am
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