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Does Complaining Get You What You Want? If Not, Try This!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #140 – Watch or listen HERE.

Here’s a bulletin! We don’t always get what we want!

Take a team of 20 when 10 start, and you have half of the population in this situation…don’t we wish we only had 10 people dissatisfied as a leader!

Here is the plight of one of my college athletes. She was in the starting lineup. Now she isn’t. This is not an unusual story as noted by the numbers listed above. Division I softball demands that you perform. Period.

She wasn’t performing on the offensive side of the game and now finds herself managing all the emotions that go along with not being a starter for the first time in her career…and now working with me to find the best strategies to do so!

Whether you are a college athlete, a top sales executive or a non-profit professional or any other human being, you will run into times when you are disappointed and in a position you loathe.

The question is, what now?

The answer. Take action!

Oh…we take action, alright! We find excuses. We get stuck in “what if?” and “why me?” modes. And we COMPLAIN!

Thankfully, my athlete is doing a good job of avoiding our natural tendencies to take fall into these actions, but I am certain some of this has gone through her mind…because she is human.

Making excuses makes us feel better for a minute. And so does complaining. But take a look at what complaining really does you’ll find out that it is much more destructive than we think.

Research done by Dr. Mike Baer from Arizona State sheds some light on how complaining can make our situation worse by creating a chasm between us and the person we are complaining about. Yes, that is usually the same person we need to get what we want.

Baer’s research shows that the more we complain, the more we narrow our focus, the more problems we see and the less we are willing to communicate and do what is needed to perform at our peak.

Think about this for a second. We had what we wanted at some point or had an opportunity to get it. We lost it because we didn’t perform…or someone thought we didn’t (and we know most people in charge are very much interested in getting the best results so “sitting” a person who is performing in a way that is helping the team is very unlikely and counterproductive!). And our tendency is to place the blame elsewhere.

And on queue enters complaining and we make it worse…for ourselves. We pull away. We stop communicating. We stop going the extra mile. All things that move us further from being our best!

At first, complaining makes us feel good. It is shown to build relationships with those to whom we complain, especially if these people have suffered a similar situation – pan to the end of the bench! Complaining can also help us sort through emotions and reduce the sadness and anger surrounding our frustrations and disappointments. It makes us feel so much better that we will search out this comfort so far that if we go to someone and they reply in a way that does not serve as commiseration, we move on to someone who will vent with us.

We feel better. But it doesn’t stop there!

Baer’s research found that those who found and used a “sympathetic” ear felt more anger toward their boss and the situation and were less likely to think their circumstances would improve.

All of this turns into us doing less. And doing less doesn’t get us more!

Well, then, this action doesn’t work. What will?

Let’s try communicating in a different way. If you are the complainer, you are communicating. But you are most likely not communicating with the person who can help you gather information to help the situation. As noted, communication with those people has probably hit an all-time low!

And as Jon Gordon states in You Win in The Locker Room First, “where there is a void in communication, negativity fills it.”

Let’s take action and fill that void with something that helps! Let’s have that hard conversation. In fact, let’s take action before we communicate and PRE-EXPERIENCE IT!

This is what my brave and forward-thinking athlete did last week. She stepped out of her comfort zone, employed a few mental tools and talked to her coach, asking what can do to move closer to her previous role.

Seems obvious and oh, so simple. You and I both know we don’t do this as quickly or as often as we should…because we make ourselves feel better by complaining!

She was nervous. She did not know what she would hear or experience.

Since preparation helps boost confidence. We went to work. We went through all the possibilities. And she PRE-EXPERIENCED them so she could use her RESPONSE-ABILITY.

If this happened, she had a plan. If that happened, she had a plan. She isn’t going to change what the coach does, but how she responds to her makes a HUGE difference in what happens next! Her RESPONSE is critical and it is all she can control!

The bottom line is this. She needed to see herself in this situation and feel the varying emotions that may appear, depending on her coach’s position.

We don’t know what someone is thinking until we ask, and we have a tendency to catastrophize in the meantime. This keeps us in a problem mindset and the problem gets bigger with each passing moment.

If we PRE-EXPERIENCE the conversation, we move to a solution-focused mindset.

If…then. And when…then. She saw herself respectfully stating her case. She picked an environment that was appropriate for the conversation and visualized it as if she was preparing for an at-bat or a speech.

The result? She was glad she did her prep work. She was not thrilled with the coach’s response and she was able to use her response-ability to move the conversation forward with respectful discussion and information-seeking questions.

How? She had already been there!

It is not our boss or coach’s responsibility to make every situation comfortable for us. It is using our RESPONSE-ABILITY that helps us manage whatever comes our way.

Complaining about people and circumstances keeps us short-sighted. Opening our vision to see what may happen helps us manage the most difficult moments more effectively.

Want more? Step out of that comfort zone by laying out a plan and living it before it happens! You may not get exactly what you want, but you will be one step closer than you were and a million steps past complaining!

Manage the moments…and pre-experience them when needed!


P.S. Contact me today at or call/text 234-206-0946 and let’s set up a session or a plan to take your program's mental game to the next level!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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