It’s February. The days are cold. Those New Year’s resolutions are hard to stick to. And it seems like everyone—including us—is complaining about it. It’s easy to focus on the negative this time of year—yet easy doesn’t always equal healthy, as Will Bowen explains in his bestselling book A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted. He’s on a mission to tip the world’s consciousness scale from negative and grumpy to positive and optimistic, and you can help.
Bowen zeroes in on five main reasons people complain, which he summarizes with the acronym G.R.I.P.E.:
Excuse poor performance
Bowen offers solutions for counteracting the unhealthy communication habits we confront when our friends, family and co-workers begin to “G.R.I.P.E.” Here’s a rundown of five ways to stop a bellyacher from, well, bellyaching:
- When someone complains to get attention, turn the conversation around by asking positively, “What’s going well for you?” That way you can offer your support and attention while remaining positive.
- People often try to remove responsibility by blaming other people and circumstances to justify their own lack of effort. When someone tries to remove responsibility, try asking, “If it was possible, how might you do it?” You can help open the complainer’s mind to considering possibilities rather than limitations.
- Another reason people complain is to inspire envy—in other words, to make a negative statement about others to make themselves feel better. When someone complains to inspire envy, compliment that person for possessing the opposite trait.
- People also complain to build power for themselves and often times, to belittle and reduce another person’s power. When someone complains to you about someone else in order to gain power, invite that person to speak directly to the person being complained about. You can then create a space for communication and openness.
- A person complaining to excuse poor performance complains about circumstances after the fact to explain away failure. People have excuses for everything—from being late to missing appointments, excuses are everywhere. When someone complains to excuse poor performance, ask what he or she plans to do differently next time.
So there you have it! What do you think of Will’s five main reasons people complain? Could you go 21 days without complaining? Learn more about A Complaint Free World and the 21-day Complaint Free Challenge at acomplaintfreeworld.org.
Win a copy! We’re helping to spread the complaint-free message by giving away a copy of A Complaint Free World and a signature Complaint Free Purple Bracelet on Twitter. Tweet your favorite positive affirmation with the hashtag #BBLComplaintFreeGiveaway. We’ll choose one lucky winner on Friday morning (February 8, 2013).
Read more in this exclusive chapter from A Complaint Free World: