Pretty much everyone complains about a boss at some point. And in some workplaces it’s almost a right of passage! But for too many people, complaining about your boss turns into a full time job, in and of itself.
Not just the complaints you share with coworkers and family, but the ones you have running in your head — even if you aren’t conscious of how much time you spend on those thoughts. While your boss may be worthy of complaints, the real question is “Are you helping or hurting yourself?” Also, “What is my alternative?”
Are you helping or hurting yourself?
Let me begin by saying none of us are saints. When anger rises, when we feel belittled or ignored or abused in some way, holding it in is not always the answer. And complaining about your boss may even help bring you to realize that it is time to take action.
But there is a big difference between becoming aware of and perhaps venting real emotions and just staying stuck in the complaint phase. No one benefits from fixing their brain only on what is wrong.
Downsides of complaining about your boss
So now let’s take a moment to think about how much of our day is spent thinking about or maybe even fuming about our boss. No matter how right you may be, here’s how you may be hurting yourself:
- How much of your energy is going into complaining rather than taking positive action to help change things for yourself? Odds are if you don’t take action to help, your boss sure won’t.
- A negative mindset can ruin your day even more than an annoying boss can. Again, if your boss is a bully or actively harming you (NOT OK!!), a positive mindset alone won’t help. But so often we let the annoyances add up and even feed them. That’s something that we do to ourselves.
- Your complaints, especially shared with seemingly sympathetic coworkers, can get back to your boss. Don’t assume a knowing smile means your words won’t be passed on.
- Toxic bitch sessions only help increase your anger. It may feel good to get that support and validation, but you are not getting any closer to solving the problem.
- By constantly seeing how much they are doing to YOU, you begin to mentally turn your boss into a cartoon villain of sorts. That grows the negative and pretty much obliterates any potentially positive aspects, helping to close off hope of turning things around.
⇒ EXTRA: How To Deal With a Bully Boss
⇒ EXTRA: How Gossip at Work Can Hurt You
Why do we complain so much about work?
You need to know that most people complain about work at some point or another. It’s not just you.
The real thing I want you to look at is how much of your time is spent on something that won’t get you closer to what you really want.
Why complaining is so tempting:
- It adds drama to your day. Especially if your job isn’t giving you everything you want. Strong emotions energize us and can often fill the boring moments.
- Sometimes it just feels good to let it out. The real problem may even be at home, but safer sometimes to blame our boss or job.
- Bonding with coworkers against a common “enemy.” I admit I’ve been there and done that myself. And it sure feels good — for a while.
- Bosses can be seen as parental figures, and that raises all kinds of longstanding triggers. It’s easy to fall into transferring old anger or frustrations to your boss.
- Like a computer game or browsing the internet, it’s something to divert us instead of mapping out our next healthy goal, like job hacking or an actual new job.
So what is my alternative?
This is not to say that you should never complain. Complaining about your boss can help you release a lot of anger. At least for a while. And, more importantly, it can help you identify real issues that need attention.
But the real key question is “What do you do with all that anger?”
It’s worth taking time to look at your situation as if you were an impartial observer. Is your job worth saving? How much drama or frustration are YOU adding to the situation? This is not to blame, but to help you see possible solutions more clearly. And to put the power back into your own hands!
The most important thing I’ve learned about jobs is that many times there are things we can do to help make things better for ourselves. But it takes a willingness to really look at who we are and what we have, and then slowly take steps to improve our own lives.
Some posts to help
And just in case you do need to leave