I really don’t cope well when I am subjected to whingeing for any period of time longer than a few minutes. In fact, I am certain that it must have been used as a form of torture at some time in history.
As a parent, whingeing is the behaviour that I struggle with the most. Every second of whinge sends a little piece of my brain into overwhelm, until my brain eventually feels so crazily overwhelmed that, for the good of mankind, I issue myself with a time out.
In my assessment, a whinge is a complaint. We whinge because something is missing for us. However, unless someone decides to listen to our whinge and make us an offer, whingeing doesn’t change how things are. I think that it allows us to tell the world that something is missing for us, without enabling us to take action to resolve what is missing. If we don’t know how to move from whingeing or complaining to taking action to address our complaint, then all we have available to us is a cycle of whinge.
So, if a whinge doesn’t allow us to address our complaint, what will?
I now hold an assessment that a whinge is a request that has not been discovered yet. This was quite an exciting discovery, because if a whinge is a request that has not been discovered yet, then this suggests that a response to a whinge or complaint can be: How can you turn your complaint into a request?
When I discovered this, it felt like awesomeness. This one question changed our parenting lives. The first time that one of our children took a deep breath in a moment of obvious (but not yet expressed) complaint and said “Mum, I have a request”, I nearly cried with gratitude and pride. It was a day of huge celebration. Whatever the request, I was going to say yes to it because I wanted our children to see just how amazingly beneficial this approach could be.
Making a request in a moment of complaint is not something that is relevant only to our children. How often as adults do we fall into a pattern of complaining without taking action to resolve? I know that I do this sometimes, and I have also been on the receiving end of others who have done it. I assess that it is part of being human; sometimes we just need to be heard.
How would it be, however, if we asked ourselves how to turn our complaints into requests? Although I don’t always succeed, I now try to stop and ask myself this very question, and I have found it incredibly powerful. Sometimes, simply knowing that there are requests that I could make if I wanted to is enough. Other times, I realise that making the requests is almost essential if I am to move on.
Making a request to satisfy a complaint seems like such an obvious approach, yet it took years for it to become obvious to me. When it did become obvious, it really did change our family. Even now, I love it when I hear my children say “I have a request”.
So, as you progress through your day today and the inevitable complaints arise, how would it help you to take a moment and ask yourself:
How do I turn my complaints into a request?
Who am I?
I am a leadership and life coach, available for coaching and facilitation services. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.