Don’t Waste Your Breath: How To Fix Your Problems
In this edition of Pet-Peeves-Oh-My-God-Never-Do-This-I-Hate-You, a generic conversation representative of a much bigger problem:
Person: “Hi, I have a problem. I didn’t get this email from your company and I couldn’t figure out why, because I know a lot of other people got it. So I was just wondering why and if I can get it from you.”
Me: “That’s a good question. Let me check on that. I think I figured it out–you’re not on the email list! Let me get you on that list right now. I’ll also send over that particular email so that you have that as well. And now you’re on the list, so you’ll receive all future group correspondence.”
Person: “Oh, good, thank you. I was just confused because I didn’t get the email, so I didn’t know if maybe I wasn’t on the email list or something.”
Me: “…Yep. We’ve got it figured out now. Like I said, I put you on the email list, so you will get all of our future emails. I also sent over that initial email so you should have it. So we are good to go!”
Person: “I really appreciate you doing that. I was a little worried that I wasn’t on the list, you know, since I didn’t get the email. That’s why I wanted to follow up with you to find out.”
Me: “…Well, I’m glad you did. I’m glad we got it figured out for you.”
Person: “Yeah, because I was just concerned that I wouldn’t get the information, especially if I wasn’t on the list.”
Me: *spirals into a fit of rage and sets fire to the building.*
I get it–some people just want to be heard. They want to vent and they verbally process and it makes them feel better. However, while a verbal processor, I’m also an extremely solutions-oriented person. So here, I provide you with a guide to help you Stop Complaining and Solve the Problem:
- Step #1: Rage! (For A Minute.) Vent for a minute. Do it (right now, even.) Find a safe person or space and just get pissed. Scream, cry, use all of the profanities and angry language, plot revenge, bemoan your terrible luck and how the world is out to get you. The key is to set a time limit on this. It might be a minute, an hour, a day, but it should be no longer than 48 hours. It used to be thought that venting helped relieve anger, but…it doesn’t. If anything, the longer you are angry, the worse the problem becomes. If you self-impose a time limit, then get cracking on moving forward, you won’t continue to fuel the anger and frustration and can use that time to be productive.
- Step #2: Find Creative Solutions. Do you know what business leaders look for in people who are groomed to move up in companies? I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with “foblem folving fabilities.” Things go wrong–it’s a fact of life. The people who succeed are the ones who know how to navigate the storms or who are willing to try new things to pass through safely. Try your most obvious solutions first, but think outside the box as well.
- Step #3: Because, Sacrifice. Unfortunately, some of the most effective solutions involve giving things up that we don’t want to. Sometimes, it means confronting your fears and taking a step you aren’t going to particularly enjoy. Sometimes, it means changing a habit that is firmly ingrained in you and is going to be difficult (damn near impossible?) to break. But chains can’t be broken if no one tries to break them. Take a deep breath, swallow your discomfort, and make that first step. The rest will get easier as you continue moving forward.
- Step #4: For the Love of God, Shut Up About It Already. This goes hand in hand with the opening anecdote and with Step #1. Once you’ve identified a solution, stop talking about the problem. Complaining is NOT productive–there is absolutely no sense in continuing to beat the dead horse…it died in Step #2. (Plus, violence against horses is bad anyway.) When you feel the urge to complain coming on, squash it. If it happens anyway, stop yourself as soon as you recognize it and repeat the solution to yourself. If you hear someone else complaining about it, reiterate that a solution has been found, it is being worked on, and that there is no more that can be gained from continuing to talk about the problem. Remember that you own the solution…what power does the problem have over you anymore? (Answer: only the power you let it have. So stop.)
As we climb the ladder of productivity and progression in our work and personal lives, there will be missing rungs. There will be rungs that are breaking. There will be rungs that move or disappear while we’re standing there. The happiest and most successful people in life are the ones who can Macgyver their way around those snags in the journey and continue climbing. Don’t let any problem take you off of the ladder and permanently onto a proverbial fire escape to remain forever. Continue climbing…and save your breath for the activity required in making yourself better every day.