Ten Ways to Complain Successfully

Complainers, within organizations, are swamps of despair that drag down and demotivate. They feel good pointing out bad.


Lazy bums point fingers and pull down.
Building up is courageous, hard work.

I’m complaining about complainers.


Some complainers are cowards who complain around issues. Fix their complaint and they have another. They’re never happy because they won’t say what’s really bothering them. Coward-complainers love sounding compassionate and selfless. They say, “I’m concerned about …”


  1. Will fixing this satisfy your issue?
  2. Is there something else bothering you?
  3. How will you participate in solutions?


Persistent complainers are dark-cloud, energy drainers, who are happy being unhappy. Every organization suffers these pockets of misery. They blame.


Improving and tweaking the work of others often feels like complaining. They aren’t really complaining they’re “helping.” Improvements suggest not good enough. They improve from a distance.


Immature complainers whine when they don’t get their own way. They have one objective, personal comfort. What’s good for organizations or others doesn’t fit their world. Others adapt, they don’t.

Successful complainers:

  1. Ask permission.
  2. Honor progress and effort.
  3. Identify specific improvements. Complain optimistically. Never complain if you aren’t looking for specific steps forward.
  4. Choose small. One achievable improvement is worth more than a million great suggestions that can’t be done. Actionable suggestions are harder than dreams.
  5. Participate in solutions.
  6. Practice flexibility. Eagerly make personal adjustments.
  7. Build cultures of excellence. Complaints are part of pursuing excellence.
  8. Keep complaint buckets empty. Make complaining part of meetings. Ask, “What isn’t working?”
  9. Focus on processes and procedures more than people. Complaining about people gains momentum like pecking on weak chickens in the pen. Stop focusing on who to blame.
  10. Show respect.

Bonus: Successful complainers make things better.

What types of complainers live within organizations?

What are the components of a useful complaint?