March 15, 2015

Whining for pleasure?


A 2013 Chinese study classified the emotions of more than 70 million tweets – angry messaged were shared faster and wider than any other emotion. Check out the front page of any newspaper. Listen at the water cooler. No doubt about it – we like to vent.

One reason: it binds us together.

Chris Hadfield, in his Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, covers whining in a section on team work when he was Mission Commander on the International Space Station.

Comparing notes on how unfair or difficult or ridiculous something is does promote bonding – and sometimes that’s why griping continues, because it’s reinforcing an us-against-the-world feeling.

But, as Chris goes on to say, it speeds down a spiral to something much less useful,

Very quickly, though, the warmth of unity morphs to the sourness of resentment.

It steals energy from the team and blows small things up to the point where no one trusts on good intentions any more. And that’s doesn’t make happy campers on the ISS or anywhere else.

The easiest way to stop a whine-festival? Ask, “So what are you going to do about it?”

Skippy Strategy: Next time you find yourself or your team spiralling down a whiney-hole, ask the question – if the answer’s, “Nothing,” move on. Anything else, kick into problem solving.