The Art of Complaining: How to Complain Effectively

Business PeopleStop complaining.  Stop whining.  Get over it already.

Ever hear this good advice?  I know have.  And this is what I think of it: $%^&*!!!!!!!!  And so forth.

Because I don’t think it’s good advice at all.  In fact, I think it‘s terrible advice, even though I’ve said it, even though I’ve been one to give it.  Still, it’s bad advice.

Here’s some good advice for you: do complain.

I think we should all complain a little more.  And I don’t think we should feel badly about it either.

Some people like to quote biblical scriptures in their self-righteous (annoying) reasons to not complain.  And it is true.  There is some verse in there, somewhere (toward the back I think) about not complaining.  But then again, have you ever read the Psalms?  If you haven’t, I recommend you do.  There’s a lot of complaining in the Psalms.

What about Job?  Man, all that man ever does is complain.  And what about Lamentations?  That’s an actual book in the bible.  I recommend you look the definition of lament up.   And that’s all I’m going to say on the bible and it’s so called ban on complaining.  I rest my case.  God wants obviously wants us to complain.

But you still feel bad complaining.  Don’t you?  Well, if you do it’s probably because you’re not doing it right.

That’s right.  There’s an art to complaining.  And until you know a few tricks of the trade your complaining is apt to make you feel worse, not better.  So read on and I will tell you how you can complain and feel better about your life, yourself, your kids, your car.  Whatever.  Because complaining, like Zen meditation, is an art that once mastered, leads to fulfillment and serenity. 

Keys To Effective Complaining:

Some people complain all the time, about their wives, their cars, their husbands, their kids, their hair, and basically how their lives are just not up to their expectations.  These people think the world owes them.  They walk around with a sense of entitlement that, trust me, will never be satisfied.  If this describes you, this article is not for you.  So stop reading now.  Because you really do need to get over yourself.

Of course, most habitual complainers who feel the “world owes them” do not read self-improvement articles.  So this probably isn’t you.  So go ahead, keep reading.

1. Know who to complain to. Some people are just not the right type of people to complain to.  You know the sort.  The sort that say: “No excuses!” when you tell them why you’re late.  These people should be shot.   I can never understand this mentality.  After all, isn’t it better that I am late because I was stuck in traffic and not because I don’t value your time?  (Of course, “stuck in traffic” really means: I couldn’t find my car keys, AGAIN, but that’s a whole other article).

Other people to avoid complaining to are “one uppers”.. You know them.  Whatever you’ve got they’ve had twice, and once with chicken pox.  In fact, these people should be avoided altogether.

Personally, I save up all my complaining for my husband.  He looks at me sympathetically, hugs me, and acts like my minor complaints are sufficient reason for his major sympathy (he’s mine; you can’t have him).  This is the sort of person you should complain to (and possibly marry).

2. Know where and when to complain.
Complaining at work is usually not a good idea, ever.  Complaining is best saved for when you get home from work.  Complaining in public is also not a good idea .  It is always best to complain behind closed doors.  As well, your complaining will get better results (ie. sympathetic ones) if you know when to complain.  Good times to complain are: after you made your husband/wife dinner, or really any time when the person you are complaining to is not: sick, hungry, irritable, complaining him/herself, or watching a hockey game.

3. Save your complaints. It’s kind of like counting your blessings, only it’s the exact opposite.  So next time you are having a really $%^& day, write a list of all your complaints.  That way when the person who you intend on complaining to gets home you’ll have your list ready.

You may be thinking: “Isn’t saving my complaints going to make me more miserable?”  The answer is no.  Because in all likelihood, your complaints are stupid.  At least mine usually are.  And often times a bad day, when compiled in the form of numbered complaints on a piece of lined paper, doesn’t seem that bad after all; and can in fact be rather funny.

4. Complain less. People are going to be much more likely to listen sympathetically if you don’t complain all the time.  Know anyone who complains all the time?  What do you do?  Tune them out?  Well, that’s what I do (and what I’m afraid some people do to me).  Surprise people by complaining less often. This way they won’t start to automatically tune you out.

Listing your complaints can help with this.  If you find yourself complaining to the extent that no one wants to hear it anymore, you can just write it down.  And then, once a week or so, you can read off all the horrible things that have happened to you that week.  Long lists of complaints are much more impressive and interesting than consistent complaining (and don‘t you want to be impressive and interesting?).

This way people will assume the week you just had was especially horrible.  The definite upside to weekly complaining is that most people don’t keep lists of all the crappy things that happen during the week,  and so they probably won’t catch on that their week was just as annoying as yours.

5. Lastly be thankful. Being thankful is the ultimate way to complain effectively.  After all, if you don’t first know how good you have it, how are you ever going to know when things start to really suck?

While you’re writing your list of complaints, try writing out a list of things you are grateful for.  This way when you complain to your person of choice, you can also mention some of the items on your gratitude list.  This will help to further secure the person’s sympathy.  Think: “Aww, you poor thing, keeping such a good attitude up!”  Of course, sometimes writing a list of what you are grateful for isn’t recommended.  Sometimes it will only annoy you further.  At times like this, forgo the gratitude list altogether, and see if you can come up with ten extra complaints.

6 Responses to “The Art of Complaining: How to Complain Effectively”

  1. Flugel Horn says:

    Your blog-post reminded me of Eugene Peterson’s introduction to the book of Psalms. Here’s what Eugene said:

    “The Psalms are a school for prayer. Ambrose called them the “gymnasium of prayer.” I taught people the Psalms, taught them how to use the Psalms as a means and school of prayer.

    At a certain point, I was frustrated because the basic thing that prayer does is bring us honestly before God— everything we are, just the way we are—so God has access to us through our own offering of ourselves. People didn’t want to do that. They prayed “nice.”

    Even the Psalms that aren’t nice sounded nice when they were prayed and read in English. We have all those Elizabethan sonorities in the Psalms and it is hard to get away from them even when you are cursing.

    I began to think that I would love to translate the Psalms into what I am thinking of as “American,” something that is earthy, something that sounds like the Hebrew original, a rough language, a language that is close to the earth and deep into human experience. A few years ago, I started.”


    It’s good to know that God doesn’t expect me to “pray nice”. I can just be myself. I see that same attitude in the book of Ecclesiastes. I love how the writer complains and whines and eventually works it out inside his head and reconciles his complaints with his contentment in his relationship with his God.

  2. KrisBelucci says:

    Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting.

  3. mary hirsch says:

    A professional PR/media person newly “retired,” when it comes to people, I’ve seen it all, heard it all. I can tell, a block away (body language, dress, etc.) what they’re all about and yes, what they are going to say – before they say it. This is the deal with complainers: they complain and have no solutions. Most “professional” complainers are miserable, unhappy, CONTROL FREAKS. When people begin to begin to begin (no nonsense me, here) to complain, I immediately say: “what are you going to do about it? Tell me your plan”… You know the rest- nothing. Effective complaining is an art and if you are kind, humble and decent, people will bend over backwards to help you. Try it. This is a good starter: “Hi, I really need your help; may I take a minute of your time?” People are immediately open and kind. TRY IT! It’s never, ever failed me.

  4. Rod K says:

    Thanks 🙂 Fixed!

  5. GYH says:

    I complain all the time sometimes even for fun and I don’t know if I should stop…

  6. […] until somebody gives in to them but nobody actually gives a **** when you keep doing that The Art of Complaining: How to Complain Effectively | Daily Freedom __________________ Never argue with a fool.. He will bring you down to his level and beat you […]

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