Deb Sofield


Don’t Complain About Things You Are Not Willing to Change

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I have just about reached my limit with people who complain about things they are not willing to change.

You hear it all the time from some in your group. They are the ones who whisper loudly that someone else didn’t do their job or someone else didn’t tell them some tiny bit of useless information or someone else said something to someone. And you know the rest of the excuses of the one person who blames their lack of accomplishments on everyone else but themselves. Today, I have a lot to say to those people.

What are we supposed to think when all you ever do is blame others for the work you should have been doing? Trust me, others are watching, and you will be a marked person if your words belie your lack of activity and accomplishments. It is pretty easy to tell that you didn’t do your work when the project, program or process failed.

As hard as it is to admit, honesty is not for the faint of heart. It is hard to concede that you fell down on the job or that you chose to do something else instead of doing the work required or that you probably didn’t care enough to pull your weight, so you bailed on the project, thinking that you could blame others and it wouldn’t be noticed. Come on, that type of logic is silly at best and pathetic at worst.

Think back and tell me how many times you promised to do something only to be waylaid by other tempting offers? Or how about the time you promised to commit to a project only to find that it wasn’t much fun due to all the work involved, so you quietly slipped away? Or, truth be told, how many times have you feigned illness to get out of doing something you promised others you would do?

I know you are probably thinking about all the other people who have left you hanging with these overused excuses, and while I am not happy with them, frankly speaking, I don’t care about them. I care about you and the value of your word. I want to make sure that you are not leaning into the wind of dishonesty and complaint because it is easier than keeping your word.

The truth is simple–if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, then change your attitude about it, but whatever you choose to do, don’t complain about it if you are not willing to do something to make a change for the better.

I write about life choices a lot because everything in your life is a reflection of the choices you have made in the past. If you want a different result going forward, then you have to make different choices today. No one is going to do it for you. You will be on your own with this important task to either finish the job or walk away and abandon the project.

A few years ago, a group I belong to hosted a barbeque and contracted with a local caterer who we had used in the past. We had been happy enough with his product to hire him again. BIG MISTAKE. I don’t have enough paper to tell you all his excuses as to why we ran out of food for our event. Or why we didn’t get all of our pre-ordered, pre-paid food and his made up story that his driver quit because he didn’t want to walk into the building with the second tray of food because it was raining. And to top it off, when we called and asked what happened, he complained and blamed our staff for serving helpings that were too large.

None of his excuses were true. Well, maybe the driver did quit, but that is because he is a terrible boss. Occasionally I will grab a sandwich at his place of business, and to this day, years later, he still complains and begs to cut a deal to be our caterer again. It will be a cold day in a very hot place before we would ever allow him back to provide food. Not sure if he thought we’d overlook his lies and misrepresentations and complaints about his driver, his food and our serving. When your job is to feed a hard-working staff as a holiday gift meal and you fail, and then you complain that others didn’t do their job, buddy, it’s your company, and therefore it’s your job. And because you complained about everyone else, you showed your lack of personal integrity, so I can pretty much guarantee you’re not ever going to work for us again.

Like you, I have story after story of mostly good people who would rather tell a fib than admit to the truth that they fell down on their responsibility. And then they think they can cover it up by complaining about the things they are not willing to change to make the process better. Author Roy Bennett says, “Maturity is when you stop complaining and making excuses, and start making changes.”

Change is not easy, but it is the only way you will find the key that unlocks the next door that allows you to move in the direction of your dreams.

In thinking about why good people choose to complain instead of change, it got me to thinking about why people bellyache instead of doing what they have committed to doing. So I have three ideas that I think will resonate since I find myself also doing these sometimes.

  • I think most of us don’t realize how much we complain.
  • Way too many people complain because it garners them attention.
  • Complaining is a great excuse for poor performance.

I think most of us don’t realize how much we complain because it is ingrained into who we have become. You most likely didn’t always complain as much as you do now because when you were younger, if you were negative, you would have zero friends. And when you’re a kid, it is obvious if you don’t have friends. Now that you’re married or married with kids, it is not quite so recognizable that no one wants to be around you since your family has little choice but to put up with your negativity. And nowadays you have things that keep you busy, so not having friends isn’t a big deal…until it is, and then you realize that you are not anyone’s favorite person because you complain about everything and everyone.

The way to win back friends (or make new ones) is to stop complaining about everything. Seriously, no one wants to hear you say another negative, unkind, biting, bitter comment. If you can’t say something nice, just don’t say anything at all. Trust me, no one will miss your snide comments, and, in fact, they might be surprised if you don’t feel the need to comment on every issue known to man.

The other reason people complain is because it garners them attention. I am always surprised how many people have a deep need to be approved of and acknowledged for anything they have done–large or small. So they will complain loudly to make others stop because it puts them back to the center of attention. This is the moody friend who always says everything is “fine” as they mope around and cry a little bit and stare off into space just hoping you will ask, “What’s wrong,” and of course, the answer is always, “nothing.” Okay, then you sit there and cry and moan and groan while we go to the lake without you. It’s amazing how quickly most of them will get over whatever it was they wanted attention for rather than be completely left out.

Attention-seeking complainers imagine they are overlooked, and the only way to restore their self-worth and esteem is to wrestle back the lost attention by saying or doing something inappropriate enough to make them the center of attention in their friend group again. That might work occasionally, but over time that is going to run thin, so much so, that others will walk away because attention-seeking complainers do not make good friends.

While I believe that most people do not have any idea how much they really do complain, others are more selfish in wanting to be the center of attention, but the one truth I have seen time and time again is that complaining is a great excuse for poor performance.

Jim Rohn who was considered one of America’s foremost business philosophers said, “To be successful, the most important thing you can do is to give up the blame list–it is so comfortable to blame the government, your negative relatives, the company, company policy,” and I will add the following: the economy, the losers you work with and for.

It is easy to blame, blame, blame others for all of your life’s missed expectations. And Rohn is correct–it is easy to blame others except for the fact that the problems many times are not caused by others but by you and your complaining. It is just another one of your lousy excuses for your poor performance.

Don’t for one minute think that others do not see through the pretense of your excuse for not doing the work you were supposed to do. And doing it at the last minute in a sloppy rush job says more about you than anyone you can imagine to blame.

The bottom line is this. Don’t complain about things you are not willing to change. Do yourself and others a big favor and stop complaining about your issues (real or perceived).

Find within yourself the strength to be your best every day for the rest of your life.

Please stop complaining to get attention–it really doesn’t work, and frankly, it annoys the few friends you have left. I promise we’ll like you more when you grow into your own presence and bloom where you are planted instead of demanding like a spoiled child that you be acknowledged. And for Pete’s sake, stop complaining to cover up your poor performance. We see through your falsehoods and are not impressed one bit. Just do you job and do it well.

This is a tough love message because someone needs to be the one friend who can push you or pull you into believing, doing and becoming your best and the person you were born to be. Today I feel called to be that person.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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