Anatomy of a Whiner

As by now I’m sure you know from reading these tips, flexibility is one of the most important characteristics that you can develop in order to ensure success in your business and personal lives. However, another attribute that belies flexibility is discontent. I’m talking about someone who’s just never positive or completely happy about anything – the nay-sayers and the fault-finders – who’ve decided that their mission in life is to tell you the glass is half-empty, in case you missed it. In more vernacular terms, this person is called a complainer, a whiner, a wet blanket.

One possible reason for this type of inflexible behavior is that the person has set high standards for him or herself and no one, including the person herself, measures up. They pride themselves on being able to analyze things critically, to bring a discerning eye to the table. But someone whose primary response is fault-finding, who seems discontented with almost everything, will get little cooperation and respect from others.

If you think that there’s a fault-finder lurking within your personality, ask some people close to you who’ll give you honest feedback. If your suspicions are confirmed – Yes, you can be a wet blanket at times – Yes, people are afraid to share their tentative ideas with you for fear of getting them picked apart – then let me give you a couple of tips.

First, develop the habit of saying something positive before you say anything negative. You’ll have to make a conscious effort at first if your tendency is to just point out flaws. But if you really do think to yourself “say something positive” before you open your mouth, eventually it’ll become a habit. Sometimes you may have to really stretch to find something good to say. But again, I’m stressing that the way you engage, and the way you communicate is every bit as important as the gist of what you say.

Starting with the negative often stops the flow of a process. If you’re willing to be flexible about how you present your feedback, other people will be much more open to sharing your high standards.