The world would be a better place if people didn't complain. It would improve how we clarify and understand problems. It would enhance our ability to solve the issues we can fix and overcome the issues we can't. Unfortunately, people like to complain.
I have a No BCD policy: No Blaming. No Complaining. No Defensiveness. It applies to me personally, my family, my business, and my teammates. I teach it to all of my clients and encourage them to set a similar standard in their environments.
People do complain though. You're going to encounter it many more times in your life. You will, at times, have to deal with chronic complainers. They may even be members of your family or close friendships. Those can be tricky waters to navigate.
Next time someone starts complaining to you, try responding like this:
"I am interested in understanding you, supporting you, and helping you with whatever you need. Whether you want another perspective, ideas for solutions, or just some validation, I'm here for you.
I'm not interested in just listening to you complain. So, what do you want me to understand? And what would you like from me?"
This script works well because:
- It sets a clear, purposeful, and relationship-focused standard.
- It acknowledges and empathizes that they're struggling with something and you want to understand it.
- It pushes their mind beyond complaining and toward the real need they want fulfilled.
Please don't make the common critical mistake of assuming they want your opinions or solutions. If they want that from you, this gives them the chance to ask for it. If they don't want it, they won't ask for it. Pretty simple.
You can't control who complains to you. You can control how you respond when they do. A disciplined response that respects the relationship will go a long way to reducing the amount of complaining you deal with in the future.
Answer the call. Do the work.
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