Will Bowen’s 21-Day complaint free challenge has been getting a lot of media attention lately. It made me wonder why people are finding this challenge so challenging. We, as a society, must be getting something out of complaining or it would be much easier to just stop. How does complaining benefit us?
Both complaining and gossip are two sides of the same coin. Complaining is a means of pushing back against something in our outside world. It is a use of our linear power to assert our will, even agains the will of others. The power comes from getting people to turn against something and forcing change through greater numbers. But can be a lazy form of action, pointing out flaws and hoping others will pick up the cause and actually make the change.
Gossip is a shadow behaviour in the circular world. It often is initiated by a person who has a feeling of disconnection, and s/he generates more disconnection by spreading disconnecting feelings to others. Saying things about other people’s nature or behaviour that is positive is not called gossip. It’s called support.
When complaints and gossip happen at work, they break bonds between co-workers. As Will Bowen explains, complaint filled workplaces can become toxic, unproductive, miserable places to be.
Harvard Business Review’s article on Proof that Positive Work Cultures are More Productive, sets out a 4-step model to create a culture where relationships are created and maintained without the need to resort to these negative approaches.
We all know neither a culture nor habits are changed over night. Research shows it takes 21 days to break a habit. (Perfect timing for a challenge.) But when we start relating to each other from a positive approach, we will find we are not only more productive, but we also will discover the authentic relationships we’ve been looking for.
What purposes do complaining and gossip serve in your workplace?
What are some positive approaches to belonging and connecting to colleagues you have found successful?