Why do we complain about other people? Because it feels good, requires minimal risk, and it’s easy. Complaining changes the balance of negative/positive energy and, for a brief moment, we feel better. It’s a pretty reliable process. Addictive even, which is the problem (beyond the wasted time). Like all addictions, we’re feeding the spin of a destructive, never-ending cycle.

Complaining creates dysfunctional side effects, e.g., it replaces productive engagement, reinforces and strengthens dissatisfaction, riles up others, breaks trust, and, potentially, makes the complainer appear negative. We become the cancer that we’re complaining about, the negative influence that seeps into culture.

So what should you do? Go ahead and complain, just do it directly and thoughtfully, to the person who is the cause of your complaints. It’s not nearly as easy as complaining to people who seem to agree with us, but it will be far more productive and valuable.


Inspired by: Harvard Business Review - The Next Time You Want to Complain at Work, Do This Instead, by Peter Bregman