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!
Any hints on a housemate who does their negative self-talk out loud? Example while cooking in shared space several exclamations of “oh C you are so stupid!” for forgotten ingredient or small spill.
I would recommend to show empathy because so many of us tend to be really hard on ourselves. If you can weave in a conversation about self-compassion, it may help them not be so hard on themselves. This is a lesson that can be hard to learn, but once you start putting it into practice you realize that literally it’s not worth crying over spilled milk, so cut yourself some slack.
The things more specific than “complaints” that I focus on in any collaborative endeavor, are to be curious about how the other FEELS, making a space to vent about reality when both are available. What’s critical is that each of us take responsibility for our own feelings, do NOT make the other responsible for them, such as making generalizations, projection, criticism, or even blame (the criticism that you addressed). Helps if you can assure them they don’t have to justify their feelings, no need to be defensive about feelings; they just ARE, and are only for the person feeling the; they aren’t for running anyone else’s life.
Simultaneously, if you want to have a change in behavior or resolution to a conflict, it’s best to just ASK for each issue to be worked out between both, as a property of the collaboration. The only justification needed is, whatever each one’s feelings are, one person has a need to make or update an agreement, to keep making their contribution to the collaboration. That person will not hold you responsible for the inconvenience, but may choose to take themselves out of the collaboration, which will affect the other unless they find an agreement that’s “good enough”.
Andrea Rand aka Angel
I would love to have a house share and i put that in my ads. But instead i get people who want to just rent a room and do their own thing?? I want companionship and shared chores. But Especially traveling nurses are like we ate professional and it’s my job to wait on them. Or the people i get from Airbnb who expect a 5 star hotel with not personal effects around. I am beginning to think that House Sharing is a dream. My neighbor said that it wouldn’t work. But i keep hoping for the perfect roommate.
I liked your article about not complaining. Even when i talk to my therapist it’s hard to vent without feeling bad. Which is why i tap with her. That phyical touch helps release the negative vibes!!
It will work! And you may need to find a different way of getting the word out. Yes, traveling nurses are looking for but they’re not looking for a long-term arrangement. Likewise airbnb is for short-term. What are you doing to put out your quest locally and among your own networks?
I will say that finding the “perfect” may be a bit too ideal. Look for compatible-enough and someone who is looking for the same kind of home experience you are.
It’s true that this requires patience and persistence.
I think it’s an important question to match up with: the sprectrum from “just renting a room” to “sharing the house” to being a personal companion or giving personal service. Needs a lot of clarification. Like what does the homeowner get to determine going forward and how much does each renter and owner factor in as a resident.
A lot of civic home-sharing agencies (in expensive cities) are focusing on getting “empty” bedrooms filled with low-income people, and selling the homeowner on getting some kind of personal help from the room-renter who has less of the “agency”. That’s a recipe for immanent failure of the matchups, many of those organizations have found. They need to deal with the matchups of mutual needs that SharingHousing promotes, not just “personality” and income needs.