Have you ever considered the negative consequences of complaining? Are you known as a chronic kvetcher? Does every sentence start with a complaint? And have you taken stock how your complaints affect your friends and family?
Several months ago, a very good friend said in an exasperated tone that I often complained. Her comment stuck with me because I don’t want to be perceived as someone who comes across as negative or unhappy.
So I made it my mission for 2022 to work on my happiness that included no complaining. As part of that undertaking, I signed up to take the eight-week Happiness Baseline course taught by musician and meditation guru Monique Rhodes. Each week you’re given a new assignment that parallels much of what we advocate in Sharing Housing.
Some Things You Can’t Change So Why Complain?
Three weeks ago, as part of the course, the assignment was a 21 day challenge to not complain. I’m currently on day 19. What I’ve noticed is when you complain you create negative energy that’s contagious and off-putting. The challenge opened my eyes of how I came across. I noticed the times I complained in the past were about things I couldn’t change. Once I accepted, for example, that I can’t change that it’s cold in the winter in Vermont, I had no complaints and noticed how my level of happiness increased. Once the kvetching stopped, I was able to focus on things I could change and be happier.
Complaining and Sharing Housing
Back in my college days when I shared an apartment with another young woman, I noticed the conversation always centered on her whining about her boyfriend turning up late, an issue with her mother, a confrontation at work or at school, or that I happened to be in my bathing suit (the apartment complex had a swimming pool). When our conversations turned to household issues, they always were prefaced by “You” followed by a complaint. When it was time to renew the apartment’s lease, I reached the point it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t want to live with someone who thrived in an atmosphere of negativity, finger pointing, and complaints.
And this is why we always recommend to have serious conversations with a potential housemate before you present them with a lease to sign. Don’t keep the conversation at superficial levels. Dig deep, ask questions, get curious, listen and watch closely how that person responds verbally and through their body language. Don’t rely solely on one meeting. First impressions are important, but it’s how consistent that impression is on the second and third meeting.
Addressing the Complaints
No one is perfect and there will be times when your housemate or even you will want to vent. Frustrations can mount and it’s healthy to not keep things pent up, but if you have a quibble over how your housemate maintains a shared space, don’t complain. For example, if they consistently misplace a pantry item don’t approach them with the complaint that they never put things away in their appropriate place and you can never find the item. Gently remind them of where it goes. Avoid using, “You always hide things,” instead, in a friendly tone say, “Oh, this is where it’s kept and it’s easy to find.”
If your housemate is the one who complains about the shared spaces, sit down with them, address the issue, and together reach a solution that mutually works. For the steps of managing conflict check out this guide.
When the Complaints Stop
I told friends about my no complaints challenge and what I’ve noticed is some of them, who often “vent” stopped. Our conversations no longer center on complaints about the weather or about the pandemic. We talk about books, movies, what we saw on our walks. We’ve become more observant of our surroundings and we’ve become more grateful of what we have. Complaining is contagious, but so is not complaining.
We’d like to learn how you deal with the complainers in your life? Have you shared a home with a chronic complainer? How did you get along? Did you ignore the complaints or did you address them? Let us now in the comments!