Complaining at Work..Communication Issue?


It’s a Workin’ Wednesday folks…

Over the past week or so, I have been talking with my co-workers about the difference between men and women in the workplace. One of the major differences we discovered is how women are often seen as complainers. Whether it’s over the coffee pot being left on or being the “fall guy” (no pun intended) for excess work, women have the job of having to be careful of how they are perceived.

When I asked a man at my job about this he told me quite simply, “that this is a male dominated society.” How unfortunate!  Is there really nothing women can do to change this view?

Enter my research. I have been reading over sites on the Internet looking for the golden goose that will point to the solution of this problem.  Unfortunately, to my dismay, many women shy, er, run away from anything that looks like complaining and encourage their fellow sisters to do the same. In fact, they attribute the complaints of their female colleagues to the creation of a toxic environment.

I asked some of my friends outside of work what were their thoughts about women complaining on the job and they found it to be extremely irritating and pointed out that men don’t do it.

Or do they?

In “How to Complain Constructively, “Alexander Kjerulf describes how complaining can be beneficial, when performed correctly.

A few of his tips include:

Unconstructive: Complain to whoever will listen
Constructive: Complain to someone who can do something about it

If your boss is the problem, complaining to your co-workers can be a lot of fun, but it changes nothing. Complain to your boss or to the boss’s boss.

Unconstructive:Point fingers
Constructive: Look at yourself first

Maybe it’s just you who has a problem and everyone else is fine with the situation? Try to recognize those situations where everything is actually fine – you’re just being irrationally annoyed (happens to me all the time).

Also: To what extent are you a part of the problem? How are you contributing to either the problem or to the solution? Before complaining about others, make sure you know what your role in the issue is.

Unconstructive: Seek blame
Constructive: Seek solutions

Going in with the intention of making people admit they’re at fault is rarely productive. Does it really matter whose fault it is? Forget blame and focus on moving on and finding lasting solutions.

Unconstructive: Only complain
Constructive: Also appreciate what’s good

Complain when there’s a reason to, but remember to appreciate the good stuff also – don’t just always complain.

Could the answer be that women seem to do more unconstructive complaining than men? Based upon this article unconstructive complaining is a no-no, but constructive complaining has the potential of being seen as helpful and productive. And most importantly, we must appreciate what’s good (like having a job in this recession) so that we be affirmed in our right to complain. Unless it’s about the coffee pot being left on or something like that.

The research continues…and I am most interested in your thoughts!

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