Complaining Is Not Healthy for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants

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.

5 thoughts on “Complaining Is Not Healthy for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants

  1. I attended my first exhibit about a year and a half ago at a State Bar annual meeting. The feedback was energizing and I exhibit at least every other month if not every month.

    The virus of complainers is omnipresent at these events. Exhibitors are complaining, “there aren’t as many lawyers here as I thought there would be,” or “the food here stinks, they used to give us a full plate,” or “I doubt I will make my money back on this one.”

    Last week at a Trial Lawyer seminar, someone I had not met before asked me “do you really get clients out of these things?”

    My answer was this: “Exhibiting is like everything else in life. You get out of it what you put into it. Have fun, meet people and talk about your profession to folks. They will sense your passion and want to know more. You may not hear from them for a year, but if they have your card when they need your service, you want them to call YOU.”

    On the other hand, I explained that if you feel dependent on a “quota” of new clients at an event, or let negativity from another part of your life come through you at your exhibit table, it will be the worst money you ever spend.

    As an aside, I did get (at least) one new client at that event. He stepped out of the seminar so he could call his office and have records shipped overnight to me so I would have them Saturday morning. When I finished my 1 minute CLNC® service run-down, he asked me: “So what are you doing this weekend?”

    I would agree, complaints are a waste of time, particularly when you are making them to strangers as small talk. Make sure you are exuding positivity and not complaints, in business and in life! Spread your enthusiasm and you will be remembered. Complain, and you may also be remembered but not in the way you may have hoped.

    Thanks Vickie!

  2. What’s that old adage? Oh yeah, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Complainers and naysayers drag everyone down into the pit with them and then everyone has to struggle to get out of the pit. We all need to watch our attitudes in everything we do and say. Thanks, Vickie, for being an encourager! I’d like to challenge all of us to only make positive statements today, this week, this month. It’s time to take back the negative connotation of “Pollyanna” and do as she did: change the whole town for the better!

  3. In my work as a hospice nurse, I have learned that my very worst day is… still pretty good!!
    However, believe it or not, I have heard nurses complain to hospice families about traffic, getting the wrong order at a fast food place, and other silly things. I believe that despite attempts, positive people do not bring negative people “up”, it’s the other way around. For me, It’s all about perspective.
    I wise person once said “Fake it till you make it” (!!). That works for creating a positive outlook too!

    Thanks Vickie!

  4. Fire in the Med Room!!!
    The recent blog regarding ‘Complaining’ spoke directly to me. As I am just launching my CLNC® career, I remain a FT bedside nurse on a bustling ortho-neuro floor. AM medications and assessments challenge my time management and the fact that the phone we each have to carry seems to never stop ringing. In a vain attempt to vent off rising agitation and stress, I and my fellow nurses, sometimes stoop to negative accolades each time we are together in the(hopefully soundproof) medication room. After reading your recent article, I realized how counter productive this bad habit is. While attempting to console each other on our miserable plight, we are actually just reveling in negativity. This does nothing to decrease our stress or improve our plight in the least. The saying ‘Misery loves company’ is so true. However powerful this comradery feels, it is a pitiful veneer at best. Your article challenged me to search for positive solutions that would actually address the core problems which in turn would reduce stress and empower myself in my job. At the very least, refusing to complain will stop adding ‘fuel to the fire.’

  5. I worked with a doctor who told the staff that when her children began to whine, she taped a square on the floor and they had time out by standing a few minutes in the square. She called it the “whining box”. Since I’m an adult and still have occasion to whine (but don’t want to be put in the whining box) I have my friends remind me of what I am doing, and I ask them to say to me when I whine (“wine”) – ” Do you want cheese with that?” It makes us all laugh and it helps put things in perspective. I have to acknowledge that my behavior affects those around me, not just me.

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