Have you ever noticed that sometimes the loudest, most persistent complainers miss the fact that they are part of the problem?
The other day I was speaking with a group of employees about their culture. One of them was very vocal about how awful the situation was. “Administration never listens.” “Administration doesn’t take action.” “Administration is blind to us little people.” When asked to give examples so I could understand better, her answers were vague at best. Trying to drill down further, I asked what she would need to see in order to believe that administration was taking action. She didn’t have a concrete answer for that either.
I’m very perceptive and can read body language well. Looking around the room I saw two people listening with arms crossed, angry expressions and occasional nods. These two clearly agreed with her. Yet when I asked them for specific suggestions, they didn’t have any concrete answers either. I got the impression that this swirl of verbal venom was commonplace among them.
At the same time, there were at least eight others giving small head shakes, looking at me and averting their eyes whenever that particular employee looked at them. They clearly did not agree and were too afraid to challenge the speaker.
Had we been talking privately, I would have kept drilling that individual for specifics, and when coming up empty for the umpteenth time, moved to some personal reflection. The figurative “mirror” exercise.
Any time a story is repeated, it grows legs, especially when told by a boisterous individual who will challenge anyone who disagrees. Instead of focusing on the negative legends, hold up a mirror. You may actually BE the problem.