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Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 12:24 PM   #1
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Culture of Complaint

On another board I saw some postings about people complaining endlessly in their work envirenment. Another take on the complainers is that this may be their style; I call it the "Culture of Complaint". I remember in the Navy a lot of folks had been recruited from high school because they didn't know what they wanted to do. They were cannon fodder for the recruiters. Then when they were in the service they knew what they wanted to do-they wanted to get out! The primary way to relate to others was a continual level of complaint, the CO, the food, the weather, the wife, whatever. Anyone who presented themselves as happy was considered nuts or at least a little weird. Yet these guys would not take actions to remedy issues that might have been resolved and commonly reupped.
So I got to understand it is just their style. I now see this in different commercial and govt operations. My wife is a teacher and there is a whole subset of complainers. I am smart enough (or lucky?) to have found a place that is generally a positive workplace (NASA) and I love being in a place where coworkers want to be there.
Is/was your workplace actually bad, "just" a place with a culture of complaint of a pleasant place to work?
How about after retirement? Is it more or less common? Do you find yourself surrounded by complainers or found a way to distance them or tune them out? By that I don't mean folks with legitimate problems, just an attitude problem?
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 02:07 PM   #2
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Re: Culture of Complaint

In my place of work and I will include my wife's as well since we both share stories about this from time to time.

An interesting fact.
I deal with customer complaints on medical products from all over the world. Guess which country has the highest complaint rate per unit of product sold? Yep. The US of A. and my a huge margin (more than 10X higher on the same sales volume).

Back at work....

There are several folks here that like to whine and complain....about everything. Most of the complaints are directed at management and the company as a whole but there are plenty directed at anything else you can imagine. I don't know if it is a generational thing or not since I would have to say that there is no clear cut age group that complains more than any other. Your hears more complaints from the 30 somethings but they are also the largest group represented here by a large margin. The older crowd is pretty few and far between and the younger ones don't have the experience to work here yet.

It is only one very small sample so I can't say there is a trend.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 02:41 PM   #3
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Re: Culture of Complaint

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Do you find yourself surrounded by complainers or found a way to distance them or tune them out?
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 05:02 PM   #4
 
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Re: Culture of Complaint

I am not sure who said it, but it goes something like this:


"A reasonable man does not complain and adapts himself to the world, An unreasonable man complains about his condition and seeks to adapt the world to himself" - "Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man and complainers"


Maybe that is why the U.S.A has continually lead in Invention, Innovation and Technology.

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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 05:18 PM   #5
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Re: Culture of Complaint

I'm kind of isolated at my work, both physically and socially--the former by luck, the latter just by nature.*

I'm essentially a programmer/analyst so when people complain about processes and programs and I can do something about them, I ask parties involved and make changes that I think will help.

For bigger problems outside my authority, I tell them to tell their boss about the problem, or if appropriate, I mention it to my boss to bring up at the big-honcho weekly meeting.

Sometimes, people are just venting.* I find though that for me, if I repeat complaints over and over to other people, they are reinforced in my mind and made even bigger than they really are.* So it's better for me to just involve the people that are concerned, with a request for help and suggestions for solutions.

My favorite psych/self-help* author said something to the effect of:* "Just because it's out doesn't mean it's any less in."* He said it much better than that; I think he was commenting on indiscriminately verbalizing to others the laundry list of things that bug us.

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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 05:26 PM   #6
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Re: Culture of Complaint

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
I am not sure who said it, but it goes something like this:


"A reasonable man does not complain and adapts himself to the world,* An unreasonable man complains about his condition and seeks to adapt the world to himself" - "Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man and complainers"


Maybe that is why the U.S.A has continually lead in Invention, Innovation and Technology.


Unfortunately, many of the complainers I know ONLY complain, as if they're expecting someone else to fix things...
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 05:40 PM   #7
 
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Re: Culture of Complaint

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Originally Posted by Have Funds, Will Retire

Unfortunately, many of the complainers I know ONLY complain, as if they're expecting someone else to fix things...
Yes, and when they complain, someone eventually hears them. If Rosa Parks never complained, her ancestors would still be on the back of the bus!
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 05:50 PM   #8
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Re: Culture of Complaint

True enough, though she didn't just complain, she acted.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 06:09 PM   #9
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Re: Culture of Complaint

Complainers might be annoying, but I have found that complaining is a form of negotiation. You want to minimize it in you social life, but I really helps on the commercial and political side. Until we have a much more pure world, I will bitch and moan whenever and wherever I think it might help me out. I love to keep my congressman and senators well informed of how I feel about their votes too. And also informed about my willingness to help out in their campaigns if they agree with me.

Anyway, a little Actors Studio keeps you mentally loose. Life would get fantastically boring without these diversions

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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 07:24 PM   #10
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Re: Culture of Complaint

I believe it is a cherished art form for some - I worked with a lot of Brits and Commonweath over 29 yrs - in their humble opinion us 'whining Yank's were in the amateur league's.' NYC and NE types came closest. The art of compliaining while ecstatically happy still escapes me.

Used to trade 'best effort home brew beer with an English engineer' - let's just say taste's differ. That was before "yer stinking up my kitchen." days.

I still remember 1966 - a manager (Boeing) - "never smile or be happy - remember you work in a branch of manufacturing."

Learn to scream and yell a lot - if you had aspiration to be a supervisor/manager - it showed commitment. The ability to make your face turn red on cue was always cool. Fashon changed over the years - but not all that much.

heh heh heh - football referee's - rest up and tune up for the Superbowl - can't wait to complain.

I am sure besides football fans - other occupations require complaint as part of the skill set.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 07:44 PM   #11
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Re: Culture of Complaint

Don't mind complaining or complainers. Don't like doom & gloomers, though. You've seen 'em here and and work: The world is coming to an end because of .........! Well, it's not! I saw something somewhere that said, only complain to someone who can do something about it. Otherwise, it's just ranting; letting off steam. I will make no whine, before it's time.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 07:52 PM   #12
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Re: Culture of Complaint

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclemick2
I believe it is a cherished art form for some - I worked with a lot of Brits and Commonweath over 29 yrs - in their humble opinion us 'whining Yank's were in the amateur league's.' NYC and NE types came closest. The art of compliaining while ecstatically happy still escapes me.
I still remember 1966 - a manager (Boeing) - "never smile or be happy - remember you work in a branch of manufacturing."

Learn to scream and yell a lot - if you had aspiration to be a supervisor/manager - it showed commitment. The ability to make your face turn red on cue was always cool. Fashon changed over the years - but not all that much.
Well thats my problem. I am a "happy person" maybe that means I am not cut out for management. Maybe I need to learn complaining as an art form, neat challenge. Even worse for my coworkers recently I became retirement eligible, having the house paid off, no debt and a nice dollop of funds in IRAs & other places and I have "jerk proofed" my work life. I don't feel desperate to leave, my attitude toward work has improved and my effectiveness (if not my efficiency) have improved. I am happy, I sing happy songs to myself and maybe a few are somewhat audible around the office. People wonder who the happy guy is. Its driving people nuts, if its raining all I say is wow, didn't we need this rain. The complainers are avoiding me like garlic to a vampire....
If work while FI is this good and if this is foreplay for the feelings in retirement I'm gonna die with a smile on my face.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 09:31 PM   #13
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Re: Culture of Complaint

Quote:
Originally Posted by yakers
[...]I'm gonna die with a smile on my face.
From looking at good stock pickers, no doubt.

I was a complainer as a kid; didn't realize it until I P.O.'ed a few people. I guess I still complain, but more of the venting kind or if I think somebody cares enough to change what I'm complaining about.

But this does seem to be a culture of complainers.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-23-2006, 11:45 PM   #14
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Re: Culture of Complaint

I worked in engineering and engineering management for many years. My observation:

Engineers are scientific problem solvers. Science requires that you question everything. Problem solving requires that you identify problems. So . . . the best engineers are cynical people who see problems everywhere. That doesn't mean that every cynical person or every whiner is a good engineer. But it does mean that if you are going to work with or manage engineers, you better get used to being questioned and listening to complaints. It's the nature of the breed. And I certainly prefer them to "yes" men.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-24-2006, 03:41 AM   #15
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Re: Culture of Complaint

Keep it coming.. this is all very interesting!

Like SG I had engineering training; you can hardly ever go wrong there with a "Question Authority" approach.

I think the "Culture" of complaint doesn't refer to either serious or idle analysis of something; it refers to a garden-variety irritation with life in general and why nothing is working out for "moi". Every piece of sand in the shoe a boulder.

As flipstress said, it's easy for things to snowball out of control. The more 'unjust' things are, the more it makes you sensitive to future 'injustices.' You're not being irrational, just highly perceptive!!*

SG, I always thought of a cynic (like me) as being fundamentally an optimist! I see things that could be better and complaint is a (not always productive) way to recruit others into your right-thinking camp.

Then I looked up "cynic" and found the original definition. I knew about the ancient philosophy group, but the urinating, etc., were new to me...!

-----
from Answers.com

cyn·ic
3. A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.
...
[Latin cynicus, Cynic philosopher, from Greek kunikos, from ku?n, kun-, dog.]

WORD HISTORY* *A cynic may be pardoned for thinking that this is a dog's life. The Greek word kunikos, from which cynic comes, was originally an adjective meaning “doglike,” from ku?n, “dog.” The word was probably applied to the Cynic philosophers because of the nickname ku?n given to Diogenes of Sinope, the prototypical Cynic. He is reported to have been seen barking in public, urinating on the leg of a table, and masturbating on the street. The first use of the word recorded in English, in a work published from 1547 to 1564, is in the plural for members of this philosophical sect. In 1596 we find the first instance of cynic meaning “faultfinder,” a sense that was to develop into our modern sense. The meaning “faultfinder” came naturally from the behavior of countless Cynics who in their pursuit of virtue pointed out the flaws in others. Such faultfinding could lead quite naturally to the belief associated with cynics of today that selfishness determines human behavior.
-----------------

An Æsop's fable:

The Optimist and the Cynic

* A man who had experienced the favours of fortune and was an
Optimist, met a man who had experienced an optimist and was a
Cynic.* So the Cynic turned out of the road to let the Optimist
roll by in his gold carriage.

* "My son," said the Optimist, stopping the gold carriage, "you look
as if you had not a friend in the world."

* "I don't know if I have or not," replied the Cynic, "for you have
the world."

-------
So those old-time cynics were a pretty cranky bunch. I think in today's usage the word has lost some of its absolute moralizing implications and taken on a pinch of worldy superciliousness.

Quote:
The complainers are avoiding me like garlic to a vampire....
Yakers, you're the only one, I think, who's highlighted a big aspect of the Culture of Complaint-- the social aspect! Misery loves company, and all that. I think people have a hard time measuring and processing "happiness", while the scale for measuring irritation and outrage is infinite and finely-tuned.

Like yakers, now that I'm in a 'comfortable' time in my life, it's hard to get personally worked up over things that have would made me go ballistic years ago. But that comfort doesn't necessarily win friends. If I had to pick the dinner party to go to--one where everyone had a nice job and nice kids and nothing bad ever happened to them, or the one where everyone had an axe to grind with their boss, the gov't., the plumber--I'd think I'd pick the second one. Maybe I'm just hankering for a dose of friction?

Now, to try and wrap up the rambling post.. another life metaphor from engineering picking up what Cut-Throat said.. the world would cease to function without friction. Too much is paralysing, but everyone, physiologically and psychologically, needs something to 'push against'.* With the uber-complainers it's just either mis-directed or their lives are so cushy that their organism desperately needs to FEEL that pea under the mattress. And thus feel alive.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-24-2006, 07:51 AM   #16
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Re: Culture of Complaint

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclemick2

heh heh heh - football referee's - rest up and tune up for the Superbowl - can't wait to complain.

I* am sure besides football fans - other occupations require complaint as part of the skill set.
This clip pretty much sums it up.*

http://www.break.com/articles/tuneout.html
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-24-2006, 08:16 AM   #17
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Re: Culture of Complaint

My only complaint is that my job and the rest of my industry exist. I love my paycheck, but a more efficient system of collecting tax money would make me much happier.
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-24-2006, 08:31 AM   #18
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Re: Culture of Complaint

COMPLAINERS UNITE!!

You have been saved
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Re: Culture of Complaint
Old 01-24-2006, 08:44 AM   #19
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Re: Culture of Complaint

I suppose that there is an entire psychology behind complaining. I often see rambling complaints from people on the job (not from engineers and problem solvers, though ). My only guess is that too many people think that they are important. *
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