What (Else) To Do When Teammates Complain

When things aren’t going well for an extended period in your organization or even within your own department, it’s hard to get away from talking about the issues.

If you’ve been in those situations, waiting for change to happen to you and others, you know how it can stress everyone.

The issues are legitimate. Talk of restructuring that goes on for months with no end in sight would unsettle anyone.

Waiting to see what the new leader will do with your department can be disturbing.

No more complaintsWhen it’s been too long, it’s easy to get into criticizing the system and the leaders and by then, there’s often a lot of reactivity from everyone.

Now if your whole team is sick of waiting, and you can’t even get away from the talk when you take a break, it can get gloomy and sombre. 

Then it’s time to put on your leader’s hat.

Try Something Completely Different

Instead of listening to the bellyaching, what do you wish would happen? What’s the experience you’d like to be a part of?

Do you wish your teammates would just do something else?

Do you disagree with how long they’ve been talking about the same thing?

If that’s true for you, lean into who you really are and mine for something that will change the energy, the tone, the space.

[Tweet “Instead of listening to the bellyaching, what do you wish would happen?”]

You can’t do anything about the situation, but you can use yourself to make a shift. 

Here’s what I did when I could no longer stand my colleagues sounding like victims, whining and complaining about the same thing week after week, month after month.

When my teammate Janette would come to my office and begin the usual mournful song, after a few minutes of hopeful listening and waiting (for her to change the subject), I’d bring out my book of Mary Oliver poems.

[Tweet “What’s the experience you’d like to be a part of? “]

I literally interrupted her and began reading a poem.

“Hang on there, Janette,” I’d blurt.

Suddenly the story she’d begun stopped, and she’d listen. And then I’d read another.

Mary Oliver Quote

“That’s really good.” She liked Mary Oliver. (Doesn’t everyone?)

Suddenly, we were in another, more creative place than the one from where we’d begun.

Nothing left to do, she’d go back to her office, and I’d go back to my work.

I didn’t have some big scheme in mind. I just had a lot of my personal self in my office, including books of poems. When I needed an internal shift, one or two poems could do it.

The idea came from the part of me that already loved Mary Oliver and not from a part of me reserved for my private life.

It came from bringing all of me to work.

If you want to hear how you can learn to lead powerfully, you can connect with me here for a complimentary session to determine what you want.

Over to You

Do you have a story like this to share? Did you ever do something in your organization that was unexpected, shifted the energy and mood and was something that came naturally to you? How did you do that?

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© Miriam Linderman 2015

Bottom photo credit: juliejordanscott / Foter / CC BY

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  1. I love this solution!!! Such an inspiring post and I think I will try it on some of my family members 😉

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