As we discuss the dangers of complaining, rest assured: there is still room for critical thinking and venting.
There are times and relationships in which complaining is appropriate. Sometimes crappy things happen, so if you need to vent, vent. But be super intentional and purposeful about it! Acknowledge that what you are doing is venting, set a time limit on it, and then go for it.
Allow yourself to full-on vent, complain, and whine to your trusted inner circle,* your journal, or even yell out loud while alone (long commutes are fantastic for this). Lick your wounds. Do whatever you need to do to get it all out. Then, when the allotted time is up, move on. Make a request and see what happens for you next!
Similarly, I don’t meant to suggest there’s no room here for your solid critical thinking when and where you disagree with something. The invitation here isn’t to stop offering that; instead, it is to consider how you can channel your critique into something useful and constructive. Go ahead and say so if the idea on the table is really bad, but be a Challenger and be sure you don’t forget to also add your contribution to your criticism:
“So that leaves me thinking we need to ___.”
“What I’d like to discuss before we decide is what happens if we add X to this proposal?”
The takeaway here is to ensure you apply yourself in a manner that represents a higher form of contribution. Take personal responsibility and be part of owning the solution like we talked about in Week 4 (Executive Presence — Bringing it).
- Being skillful at making requests is how, as a leader, you initiate action.
Making requests is a powerful way to foster collaborative relationships with others and to work toward creating win-win solutions.
When you make a request, you transform the role you’ve cast the other person in. Now, the other person becomes a co-creator; someone to make something new with. A collaborator, in the truest sense of the word.
*Speaking of a trusted inner circle, having a confidant – preferably one outside of your team – with whom you can vent and then move to talking through the issue, the possible responses, and the requests you could make is a valuable and constructive way to channel the very human need to vent. You might even practice this with your Quad if you feel comfortable.