This is one of my mother’s favorite quotes. When she’s feeling neutral and detached, she can make light of what is troubling me. (And you can guess what she’s like when not feeling neutral and detached!) So my two points here right up front are that 1) staying neutral and detached allows humor to be a healing and helpful antidote and 2) there actually can be a place for whining. Like most things, there’s more to it than believing it’s simply good or bad.
I got started on this post after reading a post by Melissa Reinert over at Kirsten Osolind’s Reinventioninc blog this morning. (Jeez! What a list of resources and links she and her colleagues have put together over there. A great resource.) Melissa provides a good summary of some of the recent research into blogging habits and numbers comparing men and women.
I do however disagree that we should altogether “stop whining.” Like most things in life and in business, there is plenty ‘o nuance to be had on the topic.
I agree with Melissa that women have a bad reputation for whining on the job. It’s inaccurate in my experience, as I’ve met some world-class male whiners! Who cares, though, for now women shoulder the blame as a gender.
I think the secret to erasing this bad rap though, is for all of us whiners to know when to whine. And when to show up with a smile.
It’s easy to pontificate about things like “are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution?” but what I’ve learned is that it can be hard to get unstuck. Hard to put on the smile, authentically, and not just cram more s*** down the throat. That is after all, so last century.
Real women do whine; they just know the when, why, and how of it!
So here’s my tip on the the topic: Whine to your heart’s content — in private. Get the frustrations out of your system. Business is tough, it’s fast, it’s as competitive as ever. Pretending you’re not frustrated when you are is no better than whining in public. Taking the either-or approach rarely works over the long term in my experience. Knowing when to whine and with whom, well, that’s a useful business skill for women and men!
h3. Roxanne’s Tips for Productive Whining
# Pick a time to whine when you are offline and it won’t interefere with your professional and personal responsibilities. Yes, that time does exist even though it may not be staring you in the face.
# Pick a place that is private. Your whining really is no one else’s business, unless #3 applies. Think closet, shower, car, underwater in the pool or ocean. There are lots of private spaces that may still be in close proximity.
# Optional: Pick a person who will listen to your whine, without piling on. In other words, affirms your frustration but does not add to it with all sorts of “Yeah, you are totally right and that other person was totally screwed up!”
# Pour your heart and soul into it! Be brash, extreme, detailed, and over the top. Get it out of your system! Cry, rant, and rave if necessary. (Remember, you’re doing this _in private_.)
# Place a time limit. This will help you focus and be successful at #4. If you don’t feel done, schedule another whining appointment with yourself.
I was a guest presenter at Rancho La Puerta Spa several years ago, when I first taught this method. Back then I called it, “How and Why to Have a Meltdown.” The female power execs in my classes ate the stuff up!
The real key to all this for me is realizing there is nothing wrong with getting utterly frustrated to the point of tears. It’s knowing what gets me to that point, applying some preventive medicine (productive whining is one cool pill) and being able to get back to my positive and successful self asap. Goodness knows that’s where I prefer to be, not to mention what the people around me want! I know I’m there when mom (or biz partner) can say, “Would you like some cheese with that wine?”, and I can laugh right back and say “Yes!”
Hey, Aloha Friday to you!