Be Kind and Gentle. Let People Whine and Complain. Don’t Use Curse Words

There’s an idea that the way to get people to do good work is to be tough on them, encourage them to be tough on themselves, require them to endure emotional pain, scold them for being fragile and vulnerable, and for admitting that things hurt them.  Don’t whine, the advocates of this idea say.  Don’t complain.  It’s hard for everybody.  Suck it up.

This is wrong.  If somebody is experiencing pain there is a reason that person is experiencing pain.  We as their encouragers — teachers, employers, teammates — want to know why they are experiencing pain.  They shouldn’t be encouraged to lie about the pain to us or to ourselves.

Maybe the pain is based on a mistake — they are trying something too hard, or going about it the wrong way.  Maybe the pain is because they have an internal battle — they think they believe in the goals they are working for but don’t entirely — they see problems or fear some consequences.   In any case, to deny the pain is to close our eyes to information.

There is no need to be tough on people, to curse them or scold them.  Learn what is difficult for them and help them address the difficulty, whether it’s a mistake — that can be dispelled by knowledge — or a the lingering effects of a trauma or an internal conflict.



3 thoughts on “Be Kind and Gentle. Let People Whine and Complain. Don’t Use Curse Words

  1. In general, probably yes. I think we should decide on a case by case basis, though when in doubt, be kind. Some of the best support I’ve ever received in life came as the equivalent of a swift kick in the tuchus.

  2. Depends if they are talking about the pain or they are talking about their solution method in regard to the pain. Pain makes those two very different things seem as one.

  3. I agree that people should address concerns, problems, grievances, this is productive. If one is in pain, we should do what we can to rectify the problem, fix the broken, make the unhealthy healthy again. Pain is impetus to not only notice, but to fix what is wrong. People should report pain and ask for help.

    If my warning light comes on in my car, and a buzzer rings when something is wrong, this is a good thing, it lets me know there is a problem that needs to be fixed. This is helpful. However, let us hypothesize that I’m out in the country and I have no choice but to drive the vehicle back with the issue, if this is possible. I am driving back home to fix it, that is all i can do, and if the blinking and buzzing continues the entire trip, it goes from helpful reminder to annoying problem. I am doing what I have to, and am taking the best course i can to fix the problem, further reminders are not helpful but instead pointlessly annoying.

    If I take you on a boat ride, and you tell me you are sea sick and not enjoying it, I will slow down and turn back to dock. This is fine. But if you spend the entire trip backing complaining and wailing, your complaining is futile because the problem is already addressed, and it becomes a purely negative thing to continue on. Complaining when the problem is not being addressed is one thing, but complaining when you are getting your way on the matter is just problematic, often times harmful, and sometimes rude. I understand you are complaining for a valid reason, but the kind thing to others is to minimize it for their sake as well.

    Then there is the blinking and buzzing for something on my car that is not broken or malfunctioning in any way. The car is fine, the system its reporting and buzzing on is fine, there is no problem, and the buzzing is the problem itself. Not all complaints are valid, therefore not all things complained about can be fixed, if there is nothing wrong in the first place. If you give two children equal shares of ice cream, and one complains about the share of the other, the child is wrong, and no corrective action should be taken, and in this case telling the child to quit is the right thing, same as pulling the broken buzzer.

    Still, too, are the recreational bitchers, the whiners and complainers who enjoy whining and complaining. They indulge themselves, make a hobby and a sport of it. There are many those out there who complain to make trouble, not to quell it. In these cases, it is best to put an end to their annoying pastime.

    Like guns, or peanut butter, or speech, complaints are not inherently good or bad, thus the broad brush does not apply. With understanding, real honest understanding, in some cases the answer sometimes is telling people to stop.

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