Life is tough. Plans don’t always go accordingly and we don’t always get the job we want. When we do get it, our careers can take an awry turn and go haywire before we can draft up a Plan B or C. In these instances, venting is encouraged. The act of blowing off some steam can be refreshing and head-clearing.
But as you gripe, make sure you’re not making a habit out of it. If you find that the first conclusion you jump to is often negative, perhaps it’s time to admit you’re a chronic complainer and all that whining is going to cost you at some point — especially in your career.
It won’t be easy to sever ties with your old complaining self. You’ll have to rewire your brain, change the way you communicate, and form new relationships. Once you stop finding fault in everyone and everything, you’ll notice your new positive emotions may be opening up opportunities for you. You’ll learn to think about everyday situations from a different perspective and old challenges won’t appear so unfair.
Below are four things that can happen once you leave the blame game behind.
1. You’ll stop attracting other complainers.
When 75 percent of employees say dealing with their boss is the most stressful part of their day, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced similar soul-sucking conditions at some point in your career. If this is the case, then you are fully aware how having a high level of camaraderie among your co-workers is crucial. After a long and stressful day, day, your frustrations are released when a trusted co-worker offers an ear so that you complain about your tyrant, mind-abusing boss. You can bond over the current unhealthy conditions because you all get it.
If you’re in this situation, be careful of the next steps you take. Once your venting becomes incessant complaining, most people will find that they can’t handle you. The ones who can are usually pessimist, complainers themselves.
Ever notice how we’re all highly influenced by the people around us? Self-help guru Jim Rohn once said, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If this is accurate, then your constant pessimistic attitude will only attract other pessimists. The more you complain, the more people around you will complain and the continuous cycle will bring all of you to a downward spiral.
Once you stop complaining and start seeing your glass as being half full rather than half empty, you’ll realize positive, go-getters in your circles will want to partner up with you. This is especially true in a work environment as most people prefer to work with someone with a positive outlook rather than a downer.
2. You’ll start finding solutions to problems.
Being a chronic complainer means you are always focused on your next problem. When you’re spending all of your energy on problems, you have no energy left for solving those problems. Complainers often want a way out of the situation that they’re in, but by complaining, they’ve become the very obstacle standing in their way of solutions.
Jon Gordon, author of the book The No Complaining Rule, told Fast Company that when we complain, our brains release a stress hormone that slows down our problem-solving skills and calls the phenomenon “as bad as secondhand smoke.”
3. You’ll be happier, healthier, more successful and productive.
“Happiness is a work ethic,” according to Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage, who describes something he calls “The Positive Tetris Effect” as retraining our “brain to scan for the good things in life—to help us see more possibility, to feel more energy, and to succeed at higher levels.” Through his research, Anchor found that by practicing positive thinking, you’re literally training your brain — like athletes train their bodies — to react in a specific way when certain situations happen, creating what he calls a happiness loop.
We know happier people are healthier, more successful and even more productive in their daily tasks. At the end of her experimental month of no complaining, Leah Shapiro told Fast Company that she felt more productive. She wasn’t imagining it. A number of research has found that happier people are overall more productive. This may be why companies like Google invest so much money into programs for the happiness, satisfaction, and autonomy of their employees.
4. You’ll be less judgmental.
Once you stop complaining about people, you can really start to hear them out and get to know their story. You’ll focus less on the traits that rub you the wrong way and more on why those traits set you off. What is it about this person that turns you off? Pausing and thinking about these things along the way also helps you to become a better leader. After all, you can’t learn more about people if you are just focused on the ones who aren’t helping you get ahead.