On the way to Philadelphia to teach one of my CLNC® Certification Programs, Tom and I went for our cross-airport trek to the Starbucks® in Terminal E. When we got through the line, the young guy working at Starbucks looked (and sounded) like he hadn’t had his coffee yet. After repeating our order at least twice we received a semblance of our “black eyes,” a doppio expresso dumped into a vente Komodo blend. From there we stormed back to Terminal C and stopped for our standard pre-flight spicy breakfast (lunch really ‘cause we’ve been up since 4:00am) at Popeye’s Fried Chicken (nothing beats red beans and rice in the morning). The woman working the counter at Popeye’s was complaining in Spanish on her cell phone to a friend about having to be open at 6:00am and how unfair it was that she had to open the store three days a week.
When we got to our gate, three uniformed airline employees working there (including a “red coat” or supervisor) were complaining, somewhat loudly as only a group can do, about a systems problem with their airline, all within hearing distance of the customers. I was at least glad that I wasn’t overhearing a safety issue but the line of passengers waiting to board didn’t seem amused.
Even the waiter at the restaurant where we had dinner that evening got into the act, complaining about how the economy had reduced his tips (apparently his surly, complaining service had nothing to do with it).
I was trying to figure out if it was just my day to ride the complain train or if there was some other message, when it hit me. The people who had been complaining all day were doing it without regard for who was listening, or maybe they just didn’t care. Suddenly I started worrying about you and all of the Certified Legal Nurse Consultants. I worried that perhaps without thinking, you might be complaining about someone while in a public space, or even worse, using your cell phone voice and having a 72-decibel private conversation. Let’s face it, you never know who is listening to you. It could be the attorney-client you just marketed to sight unseen, it could be a supervisor or a family member of an injured party in a case you’re consulting on. The first danger is that you might harm a relationship, whether it’s with an attorney-client, with a client of the facility you work for or just a neighbor.
Negativity is damaging. Even more important, complaining by itself is counterproductive. It rarely has a purpose with an outcome in mind. The airline employees weren’t brainstorming the problem; they were just making sure each of them was as aggrieved as the other in dealing with it. What a waste of energy, not to mention brainpower. Although in my experiences most complainers don’t have much of either and can’t afford to lose the little bit they have.
I’m not advocating that we should shut our eyes to problems. We should be using our agility to recognize what’s not working and then work on getting it fixed. Someone recently told me my staff is perfect. I’m smart enough to know she’s way off base in her assessment but one reason for her positive experience is that when employees come to me with a complaint, I tell them, “Don’t criticize – strategize. Offer me an alternative, a solution or an idea I can work with.” I don’t expect the perfect solution, but I won’t indulge complaining.
Why do some people complain, even when they know better? Because complaining is easier than action, and it is much easier than personal responsibility.
There’s an apocryphal story about two dogs outside a butcher shop trying to get a pork chop from the butcher. The first dog, who’s entrepreneurial and genuinely excited about the bounty of meat in the shop, does tricks, barks and takes all sorts of action to get the attention of the butcher to earn a treat. The other dog lies on the pavement, whining and sniveling about the unfairness of all that food out of his reach and hoping that someone will take the action to feed him. Guess which dog gets the pork chop?
Twenty seven years ago I decided I would no longer stand around whining and complaining like many of my nurse colleagues about the bad state of hospital nursing. I wanted more for my career, more for me and more for my life. I decided that it was time to take action and start a legal nurse consulting business.
I stopped complaining and suddenly life’s opportunities started pouring my way. I was feeling better and stronger. People around me recognized the change. I recently severed a professional relationship with a complainer. Life is too short to be around one and a lot more fun without them. As Barbra Streisand said, please “don’t rain on my parade.”
I always say “Where you focus is where you’ll get your results.” What results are you focusing on and for what purpose? Where will you choose to put your time, energy and strengths in your legal nurse consulting business today? Choose wisely and you may change the course of your life.
Success Is Inside!
P.S. Comment and share how you are creating a complaint-free day for yourself or GO AHEAD and tell us about one of those annoying complainers.