Complaining. We all do it. We all know people who’ve made an Olympic Sport of it. It could be about your kids (or someone else’s), the crap weather, public transport or a colleague who is pushing your buttons. It’s not actually the subject matter, but the very act of complaining that’s such a killer.
People will associate you with whatever feelings you produce in them, says Olivia Fox Cabane in her new book, The Charisma Myth. That’s what makes complaining so toxic for your personal brand. If encounters with you are peppered with negative comments – even small things, like how constantly tired you are, or how your boss gets on your nerves – negativity becomes associated with your brand.
Some people find it bonding to complain. In their minds, it creates a kind of underdog camaraderie. It feels temporarily good to vent something that’s irking you, right?
The trouble with complaining is that it’s usually not proactive. Nothing changes. Complaining simply underlines a feeling of helplessness and frustration – not feelings you want linked with your brand.
Consider how you’d like to come across, how you’d like to make people feel. Ask yourself: is complaining actually serving me?
I challenged one of my coaching clients from the City to monitor her complaints during a typical workday. I didn’t ask her to do anything different, just to be aware of what she was saying. She was amazed at how often she was mindlessly complaining.
I asked her: who would you be without complaining?
“I’d be a happier, more positive person to be around. And I’d probably feel more empowered,” she said
What if you monitored your complaints for a day? Notice how complaining actually makes you feel. Is this who you want to be?
If you don’t like what you see, challenge yourself to go a day without complaining. Then 2 days. If you fall off the wagon, get back on. Watch what starts to happen in your interactions.
Who would you be without complaining?
Last time: The 007 Guide to Personal Brand