When to complain?

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    One of the goals is to learn to complain less, talk less and definitely stay away from rumours. It sets you free, it makes you a better person and is just a good thing to do. I mean after all, we wouldn’t like it if it was the other way around right?

    But I really have been struggling lately with trying not to complain about other people – at work.

    I am not making things up, I am not starting rumours or anything like that.
    But lately, it just feels like I have so much to do at work, while some colleagues sit around and do the minimal. It seems like the more I am capable of doing, the more I do.

    So lately I’ve felt annoyed, unfair, and I complain about certain people to other people.
    Yeah, it doesn’t solve anything, but then I feel like, if I don’t say something, then these people get away with as they are, they get away with calling in sick, not turning up to things. Things that other people probably wouldn’t know about if I didn’t say or complain about them.

    If I don’t say anything, I feel like I am bottling up my frustration and allowing these people to remain un-tainted while I work away.

    My inner self is telling me this is wrong, I shouldn’t talk behind other people’s back, it is a reflection of me. I mean just focus on what I am doing, do it right and stuff others right?

    But I guess I’m just been so frustrated lately that I feel like I have to sabotage these lacking people.

    Please help me find my true inner self again.




    Hi Tony,

    Definitely complain if their work affects your work badly OR if you have to do more work by picking up their slack.

    Other than that, all I can tell you is: People DO know how the rest of them are. The boss knows. The managers/supervisors know. The clients even know.

    If their work or lack thereof doesn’t affect your work, keep doing what you would do ANYWAY. A good job, done with consistency and mindfulness.




    I think you have set yourself an admirable goal!

    The words we use matter and the word complain can be troublesome as there tends to be various semantic reaction to it. For many to complain is negative as in to accuse, attack, whine, find fault, yammer, gripe… More likely than not when we complain we complain in this way with the result that people won’t hear the issue at the source of the problem as the dialog is likely to pivot to the personal.

    A pivot to the personal to avoid dealing with the issue at hand is for many a conscious or unconscious strategy of avoidance – either way unhelpful if you’re hoping to improve the situation.

    When addressing an issue we can “complain” or we can communicate.

    To achieve your goal to complain less you will need to learn better ways to communicate when those you work with let you down.

    Based on the book Crucial Conversations One of the first skills we must master in order to create a safe place for dialog is to master our stories.

    When it matters most and our emotions kick in, we often do our worst – even if we try to convince ourselves that we’re doing the right thing.

    Learn to create emotions that influence you to want to return to healthy dialogue.

    Others don’t make you mad, you make you mad. You see and hear something, and then you tell yourself a story. That story triggers your feelings. Then you either act on those feelings or have them act on you.

    Manage your emotions by retracing your path. Return to the source of your feelings. Separate facts from feelings. You can see and hear facts. Stories, on the other hand, are judgments and conclusions that trigger your movement to silence or violence.

    And watch for three clever stories:
    – The Victim Story that makes you out to be the innocent sufferer. Ask yourself, “Am I pretending not to notice my role in the problem?”
    – The Villain Story that emphasizes others’ negative qualities. Ask yourself, “Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this?”
    – The Helpless Story that convinces you that you have no options for taking healthy action. Ask yourself, “What should I do right now to move toward what I really want?”

    Good luck on your hero’s journey to better dialog


    Dear Tony:

    Problem: co workers who do minimal work, calling in sick while you do a lot of work for the same pay. It is unfair.

    Solution 1: complain to some co workers about the other co workers. (not effective)

    Solution 2: work less yourself. Call in sick sometimes as well (when you are not sick).

    Solution 3: talk to a (hard working) supervisor, if there is one, about the unfairness; ask for a raise for doing more work.

    Regarding #2: in some jobs, if a person does not use sick days, he/ she gets paid for unused sick days at a certain point, which makes it fair.

    If indeed you get paid the same as others while you consistently did a whole lot of work and they did very little and no one pays attention, rewarding you for your hard work, then you feeling some anger is understandable, as we do have a need for fairness. If the value of your hard work is making a profit for the employer, and the employer doesn’t care that you are trying so hard, not compensating you for your hard work, then it makes sense to me to … not work that hard.



    thanks for your insightful comments @Inky @Peter and @anita

    I kind of see how the outside world is reflection of my inner self.

    You are absolutely right, a lot of the times I do let stories in my head carry me away. I will do some self reflecting and trace the origins. I will also try to communicate the problem.

    Thanks, I’ll try give it all a go.


    Hi Tony,

    There is a difference between complaining about people maliciously (what we’d call gossip- complaining or being degredatory for it’s own sake/entertainment) and having a justified indignation if – from an objective perspective – others are not fulfilling their jobs, or else are but have workload much less than you. I’ve felt the same thing; if someone is being employed to fulfil a role or a goal and they aren’t this (in my mind) is broken in the same way a cog in a watch can be.

    Complaining is fundamentally a form of ventilation – you’re releasing the pressure, this is normal and healthy so long as it’s done with someone trustworthy and isn’t going ‘along the grapevine’. It’s important though that you are dealing with the issue itself in the way it needs to be; if you are overworked or your colleagues aren’t performing your manager needs to be dealing with this. If your manager is reluctant to resolve such an issue it could be your frustration is a reaction to a cultural issue in your company.

    A final important thing is the role of perception; there are people I’ve met who’ve *always* believed they are overworked, underpaid, undervalued etc. and some people who’ve always been oblivious to how little they contribute. Personal pride, parental example, whether you are more conservative or free-flowing etc. can all change where you view yourself. Make sure if you are judging your colleagues that you are being objective; ‘what really *are* they here for?’ ‘what realistically is the expectation of them’. And bear in mind that it’s easier to judge workload and contribution in some work environments to others; it’s easy to measure the output of a stock operative moving boxes, it’s hard to measure an office worker where one project, decision, deal, may have vastly varying impact or work associated with it.

    I hope this has helped; I wouldn’t say having complaints itself is an issue – it’s a natural response to something not working (so long as you’re being objective) – it’s important that you resolve it the right way.



    Hi @gggfx

    thanks for your reply, I can really understand it.
    I do feel there is alot of personal perception involved. It has just naturally evolved into real bitterness.

    I could just play all relaxed like they appear to, or to just play dumb and not do things. But I struggle to, and I cannot because of my sense of responsibility and at the end of the day, I just can’t, I have to get things done.

    Grateful for your reply, it does give me new perspectives on how to view this. Besides, few more weeks and I’ll be on holiday and I can forget about work for a few weeks.



    I could just play all relaxed like they appear to, or to just play dumb and not do things.

    That maybe what is known as a Fool’s Choice – These are false dilemmas that suggest we face only two options (both of them bad), when in fact we face several choices.

    You can live your truths as you know them, doing your job the best you can because that is who you are without judging, labeling, comparing or imagining how relaxed others appear to be in how they do there work. All this imagining seems to be the source of much of your frustrating.

    This Afternoon I went for a walk to a local coffee shop. A man was nice enough to hold the door open for me however I was preoccupied and didn’t acknowledge him with a thank you. The man in an tone a voice that to me indicated annoyance let me know with a load “Your Welcome”

    The man of course could not know I was thinking about my mother who had recently past and instead perhaps imagined I was being rude and would teach me manners by a reminder with the ‘Your Welcome”. Perhaps in that moment he needed validation… Of course in that moment I was also imagining I new what the man intention was.

    I won’t lie a part of me was embarrassed for my failure at not being present and angry at the man for pointing it out. So we had a moment that was likely negative for both instead of a moment that was gracious for not real reasons

    Maybe we were both right – I was being rude and he was only holding open the door to be noticed for his good manners.
    What if the man could be happy holding open doors for others, not to be thanked, but because that was who he was?
    What if I could be grateful for someone holding open a door for me even in those times I’m not fully present. why should we imagine we “knew” what the other intent was and so change a moment of grace into something else



    Thank you for sharing your story. It really helps me realise why am I doing the things I am.
    I am doing my job, my work to my ability and sense of responsibility, but perhaps deep down, the source of my frustration is coming from searching for other validation.

    Thanks for the provoking insights.

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