This past week I was in a line of cars waiting to drop off our daughter at her middle school, and the minivan in front of me had a bumper sticker that read, “Stop Global Whining!”
This message gave me a chance to reflect about the many times I have whined and complained about matters related to work, family, and just about anything else under the sun.
The point here is sometimes we spend so much time whining, it’s a surprise we can get any work done.
Whining is a Form of Procrastination
Let’s start with synonyms of whining: complaining, fussing, griping, grumbling, and protesting.
Think about the list of words noted here … How effective are we at work when we complain or gripe? You’re right … zero!
Recently, I was asked to prepare a presentation for the executive team, and I immediately reverted to whining, as if this tactic would somehow make the work manageable …
- “That’s crazy! Why was I assigned this work? I know so many other people who should take the lead, and they are asking me to do it!”
- “I have so much on my plate right now, and it’s unfair that when it comes to preparing presentations, I’m always chosen first!”
- “Maybe I will just do the bare minimum, and I won’t care if they don’t like the presentation!”
When I recall this situation, I made excuses for a couple of weeks before starting the work. In fact, I even sent a few emails to colleagues sharing my displeasure about the unfairness of the whole thing.
Yes … procrastination at its best! If I had just prepared and completed the presentation without complaining, I would have saved a great deal of time for other work needing to be completed, improving my overall work performance.
Doing Your Part
Over the years, I’ve observed top performers hardly ever whine about anything.
Let me share an example … Several years ago, I was assigned to work on a project with a group from Chicago. The project manager was Karla, and she seemed to always be focused on both the problem and the solution.
About midway through the project, the customer asked for new work that was not in the original plan. After getting the expectations from the customer, Karla convened a meeting with the rest of the team. Most of us were upset about the unexpected changes and thought we should tell the customer that it was a no-go!
Karla had a totally different perspective and mindset about how to move forward from here.
She said, “Well … we have an unusual request from the customer, and it will mean extending both the project schedule and budget. I spoke to the customer about the impact it will have on the project, and they are fine with it. Now … let’s re-plan the work and get going to ensure we meet the new expectations.”
That’s it! There was no blaming! No whining!
With this attitude and perspective, we went straight to work and completed the project as expected.
We are sometimes asked to do unreasonable work, and we can stand our ground by complaining about the situation or figure out a way to efficiently handle the task at hand. Employers are looking for problem solvers, for people who can work in ambiguous environments.
This means we should be prepared to embrace the unmanageable stuff. I learned from Karla that it’s far better to identify what needs to get done and start doing it right away. By taking this approach, my time dedicated to whining will decrease significantly, and the value I provide the customer and my employer will increase markedly.