Learn to Ignore the Complainers
Awhile back, I brought cookies to the office for a party. After the party was over, I left the extra desserts in the break room for anyone to take.
Several hours later, someone was in a huff. “You only brought six cookies?” she said.
I pointed to the empty containers in the recycle bin. “There were more this morning.”
“Yeah, but there were only six when I came in,” she said, defensively.
Needless to say, I didn’t bring goodies again for awhile. But should I really let one person throw their wet blanket on my generosity?
When I hear about odd complaints, I think of the Reddit post about a “cookie butter”-flavored cake. According to the Redditor, a nurse filed a safety report after she didn’t get a piece of cake someone brought in.
I've never seen that level of pettiness at work, and I hope I never do.
But some people will complain about anything and everything. They go around with a grey cloud over them, raining on other people’s days.
It sucks to be on the receiving end of ridiculous customer complaints when you’re trying to work. Their complaints are often small but, like a razor, can cut deep. It’s hard not to take them personally.
But sometimes — like when a customer says, “This is the worst service ever!” when you forget to bring them a slice of lemon — you just have to (internally) roll your eyes.
When the offender is someone you deal with more often, like a coworker, they can act like a pesky mosquito. Their complaints can be minor but incessant, and it can soon be difficult to tune them out. As soon as one problem is fixed, they start griping about the next one.
Changes to anything can also bring on complaints. Ever been at a job when a new computer system is rolled out? The complainers come out in droves. The system may even be easier to use than the last one, but people still complain.
Recently, I had to take a walk when I got sick of endless complaints at work. Other times, if people are on a complaint spiral, I have to directly say, “Yeah, that’s annoying. But I have to make some calls,” and excuse myself, or change the topic.
It may be different for managers who really need to field complaints. But I’m on the front lines, and have no power to solve anything.
I had some more perspective on this after an outing with coworkers a few months ago. We were at a bar, having drinks after work, and I was slinging back complaint after complaint about my job. I didn’t like so and so; why were they making me do this or that.
One of my coworkers looked at me and said, “I love my job. We’re really better off than at a lot of other places.”
I thought about it in the following weeks, and realized she was right. My job pays much better than competitors in the field, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s still desirable.
We still blow off steam every now and then, but I have a much more positive outlook. People don’t like hearing petty complaints all the time, so I try to reflect before I spout out negatives. If there’s something really wrong, people will take me much more seriously if I only complain when something is serious. Don’t be the boy who cries wolf.
And the people who complain about free cookies and cake? The best thing to do is ignore them. They feed on negative energy, not sweets. Not getting a reaction is the last thing they want.
And their attitude won’t stop me from bringing in things to share, to the people who do appreciate it.