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Issue #48: Why we complain


James Costa

March 20 · Issue #48 · View online

A batch of thoughts, resources, and motivation from a friendly digital agency owner delivered every Monday at 6am ET.

When I was in high school I worked at a large telemarketing company conducting surveys for big brands. Constantly being hung up on, sworn at, reading canned scripts, and listening to repeating beeps was stressful. While I attribute a lot of my comfort in sales conversations to my experience there, it was some of the most emotionally grueling work I’ve done. On breaks, most people would commune to talk about the toughest calls they were on and complain about the working conditions.
We’ve all been in one of these conversations. We’ve either been the people complaining, or know friends who are. For me, a lot of the crappy experiences I had were the reason I started Phuse and crafted it the way I did.
Flash forward several years and I was in an exit interview with someone from our team. They did unreal work, but had a tendency to complain a lot. Upon expressing this as advice, they explained that in all of their experiences working, complaining was a form of bonding. It was a common topic everyone understood, and helped build relationships when coworkers didn’t know a lot about each other. Everything suddenly made sense.
I’m not saying negativity around work is a positive thing. But I do think that understanding where it comes from is critical in trying to curb it. Complaints have somehow become a part of our workplace environments, and even the most subtle negativity spreads like wildfire. A specific project might become an internal meme, or a comparison for other projects. While they might not be meant in any way or feel as though they have any impact on our work, they do.
This isn’t something we’re perfect at: we complain from time to time, and I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. But pointing it out and defusing is important. It’s easy to agree to harsh criticisms and build relationships, but it’s harder to break the habits and create a more positive work environment for everyone.
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing it. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or booking a meeting in my calendar and then cancelling it so I have unexpected free time, it would mean the world to me.

Change Together
Unlock honest feedback with this one word
Outlier CEO Abe Burmeister: “Scale doesn’t make problems go away, it makes them bigger.”
Strong opinions, weakly held
“Save your skin from the corrosive acids from the mouths of toxic people. Someone who just helped you to speak evil about another person can later help another person to speak evil about you.”
― Israelmore Ayivor
Last week I ended up being in Ottawa with family, hence the silence! Apologies if any habits were broken that caused a weird chain reaction. Hopefully this post brings some balance to your universe.
As always, if you have any questions or I can help you in any way, all you have to do is respond to this email!
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