One Simple Conversation to Stop People from Whining

Over the last two days I have been pre-interviewing close to twenty people in order to get them prepared for an upcoming customized program and to get myself prepared for the personalities I get to work with.  What I found was something that I find pretty much everywhere, so I felt this was a great time to think about it: everything is everyone else’s fault.

Management is trying to screw us.  My coworkers are lazy/don’t care/just trying to do as little as possible.  My employees are all doing the bare minimum to get paid and go home.  I can’t do everything they want me to do.  That’s not my job.  I don’t get paid to do that.  I have heard every one of these on many occasions.  Many times I even get challenged on what am I going to do to fix these other people.

Many people are visibly upset.  Many people are having stress issues and health problems because they are so fixated on what everyone else is doing wrong.  If everyone else just did things the way that they think they should, then everything would be all right.

The problem with this is that by focusing all of their problems outside of themselves, people are placing themselves in the victim role.  They have the right to complain, and in many cases slack off themselves, because there is nothing they can do about it.  They don’t have control over their boss, their customers or the systems of the organization, so they are not responsible for doing anything to change it.

What I do every time is show them that I am concerned for them.  The very important thing to realize here is that I am concerned.  If you go to an employee or coworker and try to fake empathy you are only going to make the situation worse.  You need to actually care.  Even if it is only caring about getting your organization working more smoothly, transfer that to the person.  Then ask them if they think the person, system, organization is going to change.  Ask them if they have any control over getting the pain point to change.  Once they say no, ask them why they are letting something they have no control over have control over them.  Then stop talking and wait.

Most people will fight with themselves for a minute, and then realize they are doing it to themselves.  I have seen people who are deeply in denial physically become more relaxed.  Just by understanding where all of that stress is coming from (themselves), they can instantly let some of it go.  The beauty of this is, once you become aware of something, you cannot become unaware of it.  The next time they catch themselves getting worked up, they get a little less worked up.

Once the focus of problems gets shifted from the external to the internal, mountains of change can be moved.  You just need to have that initial conversation to make them aware of it.

This is something that I have helped many organizations with.  If you would like help doing this with your employees or yourself, call me at 515.724.3163 or email me at Ryan dot Lynch at Dale Carnegie dot com.  I want to help.

~Ryan Lynch