3 Ways to Listen to Complainers
People want to pour crap in your ears especially if you’re a new boss.
Gullible leaders fall prey to complainers. Manipulators gripe to get what they want. People maneuver you into sympathy for their concerns. Sometimes, their concerns are self-serving. When complainers come to you:
- Know there is more than one side of the story.
- Maintain concern for people’s concerns.
- Give yourself time to reflect on issues. Don’t respond with quick answers.
- Keep the big picture in mind. One person’s solution creates issues for others.
- Give others responsibility to offer positive solutions.
- Build a team, not a one-person solution machine.
- Turn toward the future.
3 ways to listen to complainers:
#1. Listen with compassion.
Some complainers want to do a good job. Others promote personal agendas for self-serving reasons. You won’t always know the difference. Assume noble intentions until proven otherwise.
#2. Bring positive energy.
Avoid the spiraling vortex of despair by turning conversations toward the light. Listen with compassion and ask questions that provide opportunity to focus on positives. For example:
- I hear your concern about xyz. I’m also curious about things that are working for you.
- I look forward to working with you to build an energizing culture. What do you love about your job?
- I’d like to learn a little about you. I’m curious, why did you get into this work in the first place?
- We do challenging work. What gives you energy during the day?
Tip: Create a soft landing pad for questions by using positive affirmations. Notice the softening words and sentences in the above list.
#3. Turn conversations toward the future.
Complainers live in the past, but the past is concrete.
Say, “I’m curious. If things were going perfectly, what would it look like?”
Tip: Some complainers are invested and want to make things better.
What suggestions do you have for new bosses?
What tips do you have for listening to people complain?