From the Evansville Courier Press, January 10, 2010
The biggest problem that can infect a team is negativity. It can cost a business billions of dollars, and can kill a team's morale.
Based on an actual company that created and implemented a unique rule to combat negativity, Jon Gordon's "The No Complaining Rule" is a must-read for any CEO, coach, team captain or parent that wants to turn a teammate's complaints into positive solutions.
In the book, Hope is the vice president of human resources for EZ Tech, and is posed with the challenge of fixing the negative environment in their office. While she copes with her own personal problems, she discovers a rule and other positives to save both her company and her personal life.
As Hope does research, she finds that people who complain start doing so at a very early age, and becomes habitual because parents allow their children to do so. In some cases, people are actually born to complain, and continue to do so throughout their lives.
"As babies, we cried our hearts out to get what we want. When we were hungry, we cried and our Momma fed us. When we were tired, we cried and we were rocked to sleep. We cried to get our way all the time, and it worked like a charm. Unfortunately, far too many are still using an adult form of crying — called complaining — to get what they want or to express their feelings of helplessness. But just as we learned not to suck our thumb and sleep without a night-light, we must also outgrow the habit of complaining."
The reality that most chronic complainers don't understand is that most teammates and co-workers avoid them. I mean, who wants to be around someone that is negative all the time? Most people gravitate towards those who are happy and positive. Everyone has their own challenges and problems, so what makes you think that they would want to hear you complain about yours?
Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz once said 'Don't complain. Eighty percent of the people you complain to don't care, and the other 20 percent are glad you have problems.' "
Here are some 'no complaining tools' that the book offers that you can share with your players or children.
The But-Positive Technique: When you realize you are complaining, simply add the word but and then add a positive action to it. For example, rather than complain about not being a starter, draw a positive from your experience — "I don't like sitting on the bench for most of the game but at least I am on a team and playing a sport that I love with my friends."
Focus on "Get To" instead of "Have To": Too often we complain and focus on the things we have to do — "I have to go to practice." Instead, think of this situation as an opportunity, opposed to a burden. Getting to go to practice gives you an opportunity to get better, to earn playing time and to spend time with your teammates. Focus on what you get to do and be gracious for the opportunities that you have.
If I were going to create a 'No Complaining Rule' for my team, it would be in this fashion:
If you want to complain, you can only do it to someone who can actually solve the problem. For example, if you have a problem with playing time or your role in a team, look to set up a meeting with your coach rather than complaining to your parents.
If you want to complain, you must offer a resolution, too. If you don't like something that is happening, you must have a solution to that problem; if you can't, your complaining is just wasted energy. For example, if you don't like what your team eats for a pre-game meal, rather than complain about it, offer an alternate choice to one of your captains or coaches.
It is amazing to think that something as small as a player complaining can change the culture of a group. Whether within a business, team practice or at home, try to create a set of 'No Complaining Rules' to help everyone around you be positive and productive.