Sunday, October 27, 2013

squeeky wheels

Have you ever heard of the expression, ‘the squeaky wheel gets oiled?’ ‘Squeakers’, or in
other words, complainers, often get attended to because no one wants to listen to their constant
whining. They make the loudest noise and therefore achieve results, but at what cost?
Continuous whining or squeaking does not win friends.

Today’s world is full of complainers. Some are justifiably seeking the resolution of an
injustice, some are genuinely trying to make things better, but some just like to complain!

At the heart of a complaint is a grievance of some kind or another. Perhaps the shop sold
us some faulty goods. Perhaps a work colleague is trying to bully us. These types of complaints
will actually bear more fruit if we make them dispassionately, when the heat of the emotion has
cooled down. It is also prudent to direct the complaint at the right person, rather than
broadcasting it for anyone who wants to hear. This approach takes self-respect and a certain
amount of detachment, but a cool head, rather than a heart filled with fury, is certainly the more
effective approach.

Some people seem to make complaining a hobby. The dissatisfaction in this case stems
from within; when we don’t feel good inside we project this into the outside world, and onto
others. If I am not happy with myself then I will never be happy with what’s going on around me.
So check: am I a complainer? If so, it is a good indication that I have some more inner work to
do. When I feel good from inside, then the ‘reason’ for most of my complaints may just magically
disappear! Then people will find me much more pleasant to be around.
It’s no surprise that we are put off by complaints; on the surface they don’t sound very
constructive and when directed at us can make us feel annoyed, angry, resentful or hopeless.
We don’t often receive them well. We strive day and night to make our world picture perfect but
don’t always succeed, so when others complain about us, or the way we do things, we can feel
resentful, inadequate or insecure.

Handling complaints from others is an art, and rather than trying to deflect them, or reject
them, we may do better to reflect on them. When someone is complaining it is usually because
they feel that their vision of the end result is better than ours, or they feel the need to correct us
because they feel we have strayed from our own vision. In the heat of the moment when words
are spoken passionately, the focus on the vision or the end result unfortunately gets lost. We
tend to project most of our energy in protecting ourselves, rather than trying to understand the
real reason for it. “Well, it’s not my fault. I have done all that I can, what more can I do?” We can
often take it personally; we shrivel up inside, and wonder: “What’s the point?”
We don’t recognize that, if we could only step back from our emotional response for a
moment, we could perhaps gain an understanding of what the complainer is really reflecting back
to us.

Firstly, stay calm. It may not be personal; it may just be someone channeling their inner
frustration on the person closest to. Secondly, treat the complainer with respect. Sometimes a
complaint is a plea from the heart; the complainer just wants to feel ‘heard’. Thirdly, is there any
foundation to this complaint? If I have the humility to admit that there is, then this is a good
lesson for me, enabling me to address a weakness that I may not have seen in myself before.

It’s time... to complain less and listen more. Try to understand the others point of view as you
would like them to understand yours. Realize that the squeaks and groans are an opportunity in
disguise, signaling you to compassion and self-respect, and helping you to proactively ‘oil’ the
wheels of your own self-growth.

Share these thoughts!