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Sorry, I’m No Longer Accepting Complaints–Four Tips to Make the Shift

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The answer is “complaining.” Can you figure out the Jeopardy-style question? (Cue the music.) Okay, time’s up. I was looking for “What is the opposite of being present and grateful?”

Now before you start grumbling that I didn’t give you a category, let’s take a look at this seductive habit.

Complaining is on the same level as smoking—it’s easy to get hooked but people hate to be around the toxicity it creates. We all have our problems, inconveniences, and frustrations, right? Which means we all have enough fuel to send gripes spewing from our mouths all day long. But who wants to live in that world?

So if you’re a bit of a complaint addict, try these tips to clean up your aura:

1)      Ask for Permission

During coaching school, my teachers warned against coaching loved ones, but if you felt the urge to step in with a deep, open-ended question you could ask for “permission to coach.” It was a way of saying, “Hey, this is what I’m gonna do, you all right with it?”

So if you feel the need to vent, as we all do sometimes, just make sure it’s okay and get it all out in one lump sum. Otherwise, it seeps out bit by bit, making others view you as Negative Nelly.

2)      Be Present. Be Grateful.

You know I had to include this one. Pause when you feel a complaint coming, and break out this tool. For example, if I’m ready to grumble about doing the dishes, I’d stop and think “I feel the warmth of this running water and I’m grateful for modern plumbing and dishwashers!” It doesn’t have to be deep, just a tiny nudge toward the positive.  

Now, experts will tell you to not associate with people who consistently practice negative habits, but sometimes that’s not possible (I’m envisioning my complaint-loving kids right now). So here are a few tips that will help you deal with those you can’t run away from:

1)      So Sorry, I’m No Longer Accepting Complaints

When people know you’re not sympathetic to their gripes, they tend to turn elsewhere. But if you don’t feel comfortable stating your stance outright, model gratitude by spinning their complaints into positives. For one we all hear (and often say)—traffic—it’d look like “Isn’t that new lane they’re adding going to be marvelous for the commute? We’re so lucky the state had enough in the budget for it this year.” (They may never talk to you again.)

2)      Challenge Them

I tell my kids that complaints get them nowhere, so why not come to me with a solution? This can work for adults too, just follow-up with this 180: “I can see you’re really passionate about this problem/topic/situation, so what’s the chance that you’re the perfect one to make it right? I bet you’ve got great insights into possible fixes, would you mind sharing?”

While we’ll never eliminate complaints from our lives, we can certainly follow these housekeeping tips to keep our airspaces healthy and to keep the good vibes going.

What’s the one solution you’re ready to try? Leave a comment below! 


  1. Laura says:

    I had two bosses who would say something like: It’s ok to have complaints, but be prepared to have a solution and be prepared to explain how to get there. It’s easy to complain, but much harder to develop those solutions and the steps to reaching those solutions. But, the reward of achieving those solutions is much more gratifying than complaining.

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