A Coaching Power Tool created by Amrita Madiah
(Executive and Life Coach, INDIA)
Behind every complaint is an idea, belief or a value that a person is committed to.
It is often argued that complaining is merely stating what you have observed. However, like all thought patterns, it is a creative act. People complain about something when they care about it. Complaints also arise from frustration.
It reinforces negative thoughts, and channelizes one’s energies to identify and associate with other similar and supporting ideas and interpretations. It allows the person to dwell in negativity, and forces a perception of ‘reality’ to the complaint.
Why do people complain? How does it affect them?
People complain or use complaints for different reasons and in many ways. Some use complaints in a more mundane manner, as a conversation starter – everyone has a problem with something, it’s easy to find common ground.
Others use it as a way of gaining or deflecting attention:
Commitment is action. It is empowering. It is decisive. It demonstrates intent. It is focused on a result. It shifts the complainer from being the problem or part of the problem, to being the solution.
A couple facing challenges in their marriage walked into the coach’s room. The husband said,
she’s got a problem, you have to help her.
Very often, the client has lived with their complaint(s) long enough to believe in its reality. They have evidence, justification, answers, solutions they have tried without success.
Before you proceed to label the client as a ‘complainer’ shirking accountability, it would be important to suspend judgment and gain clarity on the situation.
Ask questions to understand the real problem, listen beyond the words, reflect them back to the client and clarify, help the client identify what the real problem is.
Some questions to consider:
It may be tempting to lead the client to a point where they must acknowledge that they have been complaining, avoiding responsibility, could have done 4 POWER TOOL: Complaint to Commitment Amrita Madiah something or done more than they did, to address the problem or that there is no problem after all. This however could easily lead to further negative reinforcement of helplessness, frustration and even failure as the case may be.
Holding the client in a space of events and experiences from the past, has a diminishing margin of utility. Move quickly from here to shift the focus to solutions.
Ask questions that empower the client to take action.
Some questions to consider:
At this point, it would be important to work with the client to assess their intent to act. Making a shift from Complaint to Commitment is not simple and needs to be anchored in a strong value the client aims to derive from taking action.
Understand that like all change, this could be hard – the paradigm has shifted from ‘them’ to ‘me’. It’s also about changing a habit, a belief and a perception, almost all at once. As a coach, you may need to assess this intent and offer support as your client makes the shift.
The idea is to help the client acknowledge the situation without punishment for the acknowledgement. It is also to help the client expand their locus of control for more sustained and habit forming outcomes.
The universe is so well balanced that the mere fact that you have a problem also serves as a sign that there is a solution. Steve Maraboli