COACHING: What can I learn by inquiring differently?
Case Study: How do I deal with complaining?
What’s the first thought you have when you hear someone complain?
“They should be grateful for what they have.”
“How can they complain when they have so much or more than me?”
“We’ve done so much for them, and now they’re complaining?”
Complaining seems like an ever-present reality. Like with any limiting pattern of thinking we feel stuck in, if we inquire more deeply we’re bound to find some new angle on it. This is especially true of complaining. It takes discipline and hesitation to stay curious when someone is complaining. This is true whether we hear others complaining or we’re complaining ourselves. It’s easier to see the ways others get stuck in limiting patterns. It requires discipline for us to use that as a mirror for the ways we also get stuck in limiting patterns.
When somebody complains, we usually assume that the complainer is either entitled, wronged, lazy. We figure they just need to vent or get it off their chest, that there may be no way of fixing it so we should just let them winge on and get it out of their system.
The problem with this?
Complaining doesn’t get it out of their system, this kind of venting rarely ventilates the system.
Complaining to others actually creates a shared system with the listener, and keeps the negative energy circulating inside of it.
Have you considered that complainers may actually just be disappointed? People complain because something that matters to them isn’t going as they expected. Rather than claim that expectation, and how much it matters to them, they complain about it.
Developmental psychologists Kegan and Lahey (2001) explain that behind every complaint, is a commitment. Inquire into what’s behind the complaint, and we’ll most likely find a commitment to something that matters to us. We may not even realize how committed we are to a certain expectation, until it goes unfulfilled, gets disappointed, or is offended in some way. If you hear yourself or others complaining, congratulations, you just found a committed person!
Now to find out what that commitment is…
This was a collaboration with the Better Human Project. From their website:
Dr. Cara Miller is a developmental coach who works as a personal and organizational consultant. Now that we’ve gotten the requisite “what do you do” title behind us, we can say that Dr. Miller transcends categorization as a mindset guru. In this episode we discuss the path to being and doing better, the importance of [...]