The Art of W(h)ining

Yes, we all do it. We whine when things do not go our way. We rant when we feel that fate has thrown us a curve ball.

And guess what. That is ok.

I love whining at times. Sharing frustration with dear colleagues and friends. Sitting over a glass of wine to share the most annoying stories of the week. And sometimes to even just vent about the difficulties of my daily job.

Whining and wining often go hand in hand for me. If I truly want to talk about my worklife and get some feedback I am asking some of my favorite colleagues or mentors out. We then sit in a restaurant or bar, away from the daily stress that is work, and enjoy an entertaining conversation about the little obnoxious things that make our worklife any less than pleasant.

The truth is I generally like my job. I generally like working with people. And I generally am enthusiastic about what I do. But just not always. And then the little get together with a friend or a mentor can really make a difference. They can point me in the right direction to make improvements or they can just tell me “you are nuts” without hurting my feelings. It is a brain adjustment that I need on occasion. A little bit of a new perspective, new inspiration, a new story, or just knowing that everyone else has these down times.

What w(h)ining is not for me is a “free out of jail card” to drink as much as I want or to engage in self pity. Years ago this might have been different. I approached my life a lot more passive. I considered other people to blame for my misery. I assumed I was helpless and could not change directions.

But we are not helpless. We are more powerful than we think we are. We actually do not only have the power to change what is bothering us, we do have the obligation to change when things do not go right.

What if I am bothered by my husband’s shoes lying around the house and not being put away properly? I could nag him to put them away. Since he does not mind having them lie on the floor in the bedroom or in the entrance way, I will be only somewhat successful to change his behavior. More often than not, I will get him annoyed by my nagging. Permanent and successful change requires me to change. I could change my attitude. But how likely is that? I am bothered by the shoes. This annoyance is not going away easily. So what did I do? I am now paying my daughter weekly for keeping our shoe room in order. My 9 year old found a source of income, I have someone that is responsible for cleaning up.

At work I follow a similar principle. Change needs to be sustainable and not just transferring annoyance and frustration from one person to the other. Some solutions are simple to find. Others require more thought, a plan, and some effort.

When things suck at work or your life it is important to recognize the pain points and do something about them. Pain points need to be addressed proactively. If you find yourself stressed out over the same things over and over, you need to change your routine. No change can be obtained by maintaining the same conflicts and points of friction. No change can be accomplished if you rely on others to do the changing and corresponding work. Change is a hands-on self reflecting effort.

If you are bothered, but nobody else is… guess what, it is up to you to change.

Sure, instead of engaging in whining with colleagues or friends to brainstorm solutions you can drown your frustration in wine. But what does that change in the long run?

As I said before: W(h)ining can be fun, but not if it is applied to the same problem over and over without addressing the root cause!

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