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DISCLAIMER: This is not original work. It is a condensed version of a good book by Jon Gordon called "The No Complaining Rule". If you like this, his book is available through the link at the bottom of this page.

The No Complaining Rule

WHY do we need THE RULE:

Successful, positive companies with positive employees and positive cultures are created like anything else. Through a set of principles, processes, systems, and habits that are ingrained in the corporate culture and each individual employee. Positive companies aren't born. They are developed.

We must relentlessly make our company culture and people a priority at all levels of the organization. It's like the root and fruit of a tree. The root, which is our culture, people, and spirit must be our focus. Instead of focusing so much on the fruit--profits, shipping products, hitting numbers--let's relentlessly nurture our root. If we do this, we will be very pleased with our fruit.

Research shows that 90% of complaining is mindless complaining, where no reasonable solution exists for the complaint. For example, "Today Sucks." Mindless complaining focuses on problems whereas justified complaining focuses on solutions. This rule generates the kind of positive energy and culture that attracts higher caliber employees who want to work in a positive environment. It also helps weed out negative employees since they just don't fit anymore.


Employees are not allowed to mindlessly complain to their coworkers.

Addition to THE RULE:

If an employee has a problem or complaint about their job, their company, their customer, or anything else, they are encouraged to bring the issue to the manager or someone who is in a position to address the complaint. The employee, however, must share one or two possible solutions to their complaint as well.

The Cost of Negativity

  • Negativity costs the US between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity, according to the Gallup Organization. This is conservative, as it only accounts for the direct loss of productivity in time lost, not considering the ripple effect of complaining and negativity.
  • Ninety percent of doctor visits are stress related, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The #1 cause of stress is coworker complaining, according to polls. Fact: Positive workplaces have less sick people.
  • A study found that negative employees scare off both customers and other potential employees.
  • Negativity affects the morale, performace, and productivity of our teams.
  • One negative person can create a miserable office environment for everyone else.
  • Numerous studies show that negativity is associated with: decreased life span, increased risk of heart attack, increased risk of stroke, greater stress, less energy, more physical pain, fewer friends, and less success.

Three No Complaining Tools

1. The But -> Positive Technique

This simple strategy helps you turn your complaints into positive thoughts, solutions and actions. It works like this. When you realize you are complaining, you simply add the word but and then add a positive thought or positive action. Example: "I dont like driving to work for an hour but I'm thankful I have a job to drive to and a car to drive there in."

2. Focus on "Get To" instead of "Have to"

Too often we complain and focus on what we have to do. We say things like "I have to go to work" "I have to drive here" "I have to do this." Instead, shift your perspective and realize it's not about having to do anything. You get to do things. You get to live this life. You get to go to work while so many others are unemployed. Focus on what you get to do. Focus on feeling blessed instead of stressed. Focus on gratitude.

3. Turn Complaints into Solutions

The goal is not to eliminate all complaining. The intent is to eliminate the kind of mindless complaining that doesn't serve a greater purpose and allow compalining that is justified and worthwhle. The opposite of mindless complaining is justified complaining. The former is negative and the latter is positive. The difference is intent. With mindless complaining, you are mindlessly focusing on problems; however, with justified complaining you identify a problem and the complaint moves you toward a solution. Every complaint represents an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

Five Things to Do Instead of Complain

1. Practice Gratitude

Research shows that when we count three blessings a day, we get a measurable boost in happiness that uplifts and energizes us. It's also physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. Two such emotions cannot occupy our mind at the same time. If you are focusing on gratitude, you can't be negative. You can also energize and engage your coworkers by letting them know you are grateful for them and their lives.

2. Praise Others

Instead of complaining about what others are doing wrong, start focusing on what they are doing right. Praise them and watch as they create more success as a result. Of course, point out their mistakes so they can learn and grow, but make sure you give three times as much praise as criticism.

3. Focus on Success

Start a success journal. Each night before you go to bed, write down the one great thing about your day. The one great converstaion, accomplishment, or win that you are most proud of. Focus on your success and you'll look forward to creating more success tomorrow.

4. Let Go

Focus on the things that you have the power to change, and let go of the things that are beyond your control. You'll be amazed that when you stop trying to control everything, it all somehow works out.

5. Meditate

Scientific research shows that daily practices reduce stress; boost positive energy; and promote health, vitality, and longevity. When you are faced with the urge to complain or you are feeling stressed to the max, stop, be still, plug-in to the ultimate power of meditation, and recharge.

No Complaining Week

The goal of No Complaining Week is to become aware of how negative our thoughts and words can be. The objective is to eliminate mindless complaining and negative thoughts as much as possible by replacing them with posistive thoughts and positive habits.

During the week keep a "Complaint Shoebox" where any legitimate complaint should be filed for review at the end of the week. Include a possible solution for any complaint added to the Complaint Box.

REMEMBER: For the entire week you should not complain. If you have a complaint, voice it in a positive light *paired with at least one or two possible solutions.


Book: Authored by: Jon Gordon