How to Spot and Avoid Chronic Dissatisfaction

Dissatisfaction in reasonable doses motivates improvement.

Chronic dissatisfaction contaminates environments and teams.

The chronically dissatisfied shrink the future with complaint and criticism.

Chronically dissatisfied people:

#1. Need you to make them happy.

The chronically dissatisfied believe others are responsible for their happiness.

The habitually dissatisfied believe happiness is outside-in. But, if you met expectations, they wouldn’t be satisfied for long.

Tip: Appeasing chronic dissatisfaction in others is a fool’s errand. You may meet expectation occasionally, but recurring dissatisfaction is more about what’s in us than what’s around us.

#2. Expect others to change but seldom change themselves.

The chronically dissatisfied become manipulators. They bully, complain, criticize, and spread dissatisfaction to pressure others into conformity.

Tip: Clarify their expectations and ask, “If your expectations are met, will you be happy?”

#3. Affirm themselves and criticize others.

The chronically dissatisfied are stingy with affirmation and generous with criticism and complaint.

I can think of people I’ve known for years who seldom speak a sincere word of affirmation to me or to anyone within my hearing. (Occasionally they offer affirmation followed by large doses of criticism.)

Tip: Listen for the “but” when receiving an affirmation from the chronically dissatisfied.

Tip: Avoid the chronically dissatisfied if possible.

#4. Become more dissatisfied with time.

The chronically dissatisfied habitually seek confirmation for their dissatisfaction.

Chronic dissatisfaction – like fire – consumes what it touches.

Tip: Don’t expect them to change. Dissatisfied people expect YOU to change. They use dissatisfaction to bully people into compliance.

Hiring practice:

Ask prospective hires to list the strengths and achievements of everyone on their previous team, including higher ups. Watch their energy as they speak. Do they light up? Or does affirming others seem like chewing gravel?

Added question: Could you give me an example of an affirmation you gave someone on your previous team?

What practices of the chronically dissatisfied do you see?

How might leaders identify and reject the chronically dissatisfied during hiring?

Bonus material:

10 Troubling Habits of Chronically Unhappy People (Huffpost)

6 Best Practices for Managing Unhappy Employees (Entrepreneur)

Understanding Your Chronic Dissatisfaction (drdebracampell)