How Complaining Impacts Productivity (And What You Can Do About It)

How many times a day do you complain? Most of us could not accurately answer this question.

Many of our communication habits are on autopilot, which makes it difficult to have true awareness in this area of our lives. And the scary part is, our tendency to complain is not only harmful to our productivity, but to the productivity of the individuals exposed to our words.

So, how exactly does complaining affect productivity? And what can we do to fix the problem?

What Happens When We Are Exposed to Complaining?

Many studies have been done about the consequences of negative talk at home and at work. All of them conclude that negative thoughts and words lessen creativity and productivity. This happens because the negativity impairs formation of memory associations, which is critical in a workplace environment.

When complaints and negative words are being heard, it begins to breed an environment of unhappy coworkers. Employees will become less engaged if they have coworkers who never have anything good thing to say. If employees become less engaged and unsatisfied at work, customers will be able to tell and it will harm these relationships. Unhappy workers mean unhappy customers, and unhappy customers means less business and less revenue.  

All of this starts with a few complaints here and there. This can soon turn into a bad habit of complaining about everything. Habits are usually things that we are unaware of that we are doing.  In order to quit complaining, you need to be aware that you are doing it. So how can we develop the awareness and change our environment? Keep reading.



Strategies to Develop Awareness and Change Our Environment

If you are a habitual complainer, it can be hard to stop it entirely in one afternoon. Even if you only complain a few times a day, starting with a small goal to reduce complaints and increase productivity in the workplace can make a big difference.  

An example of a small goal to reduce your complaints is to set a time when you allow yourself to complain.  This can be during your lunch hour, or if you can make it all day, save your complaining until after work hours. This will show you that you are able to resist the impulse of complaining about every single thing. Setting and keeping this goal will also limit the number of coworkers that hear your complaints.

Another resolve you can make is to not be the first to complain about something at work. If there is something that impacts the whole workplace and you would typically be the first to talk negatively about it, hold back. See what happens if you do not start the negative chatter.

Try offering a solution if you have a complaint. This will show management that you still have the best interest for the company if you give a solution to something that coworkers are dissing. This problem solving will counteract the complaining and can be viewed as a positive.  

There are other small goals you can set to start limiting the amount of complaints you have about work. Read the bonus section to find ways to jumpstart your productivity.

Bonus Section: 3 Tips to Jumpstart Your Productivity

The first tip is to stop complaining about your team entirely. This creates a toxic environment and you could suffer from further consequences like losing your good reputation or earning work rewards. The second part of this tip is to think of some positive things about your team and talk about that. This will increase your mood and your coworker’s mood.



The second tip is to celebrate what you enjoy about your company. Even if it is that they have free coffee, celebrate it. Focus on the good to help eliminate the bad. Seeing the good will help you be more productive and enjoy your day more.

The third and final tip is to find new opportunities for yourself and for those you work with. Work on seeing your coworker’s strengths and give them new opportunities to grow. Do the same for yourself. If you see a need in your team and it’s something you are good at, volunteer to solve the problem. Doing this will help you contribute in new ways and you’ll feel happier doing it.