Why do leaders whine and how to stop it?

mad formal executive man yelling at camera
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  • “Life’s depressing.” 
  • “The food sucks.”
  • “It’s too cold.” 
  • “It’s too cold.” 
  • “I’m too occupied.”

And the regular complaints go on and on. Just name it, and we’ll whine about it: our money, health, our weight (no matter what it is), the ruling government, other people, the weather, our children, our jobs, our parents. I guess you get it.

Whining can be such a regular practice we don’t even know we’re doing it every day.

Sometimes it’s how we speak with a particular bunch of friends: we have grievance sessions. You fuss about your manager, and I tell you how I understand because my manager is the same way. Or my wife or my kids, my neighbors or my home.

If we recorded a tape of these sessions, we would be shocked. Who knew we are such a negative person.

So why do we complain?

Here are a few of my guesses. You may be able to come up with your reasons too.

  1. It frees us of responsibility. It’s a way to blame something or someone else for our dissatisfaction. And since they’re to accuse, we have no option but to feel miserable.
  2. We need someone to approve our suffering. We don’t certainly want them to fix it; we just want them to know what we’re going through and validate it.
  3. Everyone around us is doing it. We don’t want to look too content when everyone else in the organization is so busy being unhappy. It may make them feel even graver.
  4. It’s a total cover-up. We want others to realize a serious issue we’re having without having to accept it. I whine about a co-worker, but my actual fear is that I’m going to miss my deadline. I complain to my wife that she spends too much time in the kitchen. All I really want is a night out, but I want her to suggest it.

We always want someone else to fix it. Rather than asking for help, we moan, hoping someone will attempt to fix it. I complain about the dirty dishes because I want someone to stand up and help me with them. We want to vent. We free ourselves by scattering our ill feelings onto someone else, so they can experience as we’re experiencing.

And how do I stop whining?

  • It would be best if you understand that it’s not your moral obligation to whine. Even if that’s the pattern you and your friends have established when you get together, you don’t have to continue it. 
  • If you need advice or help, ask for it. Instead of whining, ask, “What do you think I could do about this?” In doing so, you’re admitting responsibility.
  • Understand that “this too shall pass.” The summer months outside may go on for days, but you know next December you’ll be wishing for warmer weather. Be thankful for the temporary nature of most discomfort.
  • Know that others know they’re flawed. Others are coping, as you are, with the imperfections and baggage they bring to your bond.
  • Remember that this world is not absolute. It will never be just the way you wish for. Your whining indicates a toxic desire for control.
  • Please don’t set yourself up to complain. If you regularly approach circumstances expecting to have something to complain about, you will. 
  • Bite your tongue. It gets easier with practice.

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