Enough with the Airing of Grievances


Many of us recall the fun episode of “Seinfield” about Festivus (for the Rest of Us). One of the aspects of Festivus was the “Airing of Grievances.” Immediately after the Festivus dinner was served, each person would lash out at the others and the world about disappointments of the past year.

Why I mention this is because it seems many people have decided every day is Festivus, at least for the Airing of Grievances.

The Pole

You know, it can be healthy to talk out a problem with a friend, colleague, or mentor. But a huge barrier to good communication is the people who only want to complain. I find way too many people who complain without a goal, without a rational means of satisfaction, and because it reinforces their own feelings that they are a true, powerless victim.

In many cases, I believe people complain because it is a habit, like smoking, they learn from the people they spend time around. Eventually, it just becomes their “normal” behavior. As time passes, they reinforce themselves. They fool themselves to see only the problems and learn to believe they are powerless to overcome life’s obstacles.

Unbeknownst to the great complainers is that this behavior runs off those in their career or life who may be in the best position to help them. The successful people I know have learned that just as “we are what we eat,” we also “think what we hear.” Successful people don’t want to hear complainers, they want to be around others focused o
n happiness and success, whatever that may be per individual.

While I know successful people that love to help and give a hand up to someone in need, few have any interest in being an enabler to someone who habitually only wants a hand-out or to find a more miserable souls.

Effective communication can involve complaints. I appreciate a genuine complaint. It let’s me have a chance to resolve a real problem. Just remember there is a big difference between someone that shares occasional honest complaints and someone that only sees the world as a series of complaints. Be sure you know which one you are as well as who you choose to spend your time around. Your outlook and habits are depending on you.


Glenn S. PhillipsGlenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself.  You can email Glenn directly at glennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.

© Copyright 2012. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.