Search the internet for career advice, and you’ll often stumble upon warnings not to be the office complainer. And there’s definitely some validity there. If you’re not at all hesitant to voice your displeasure on the job, your boss is apt to take notice, and that, in turn, could wreck your chances of getting ahead. There also comes a point when too much complaining can be a major turnoff for your colleagues who are trying their hardest to maintain positive attitudes amid the chaos that is your job. But complaining in moderation at work could end up serving one key purpose: helping you establish stronger connections with your peers.
When it pays to moan and groan
Believe it or not, complaining at work is a good way to develop relationships on the job. This especially holds true if you work with people with whom you’ve yet to establish real common ground.
Think about it from a social standpoint. If you’re disgruntled about something at work, you might utter a statement as innocuous as, “I can’t believe my next marketing report is due tomorrow. I have no idea how I’ll get it done.” Your officemate, in turn, might reply with words of commiseration, and thus begins a slowly but surely developing relationship, or even a friendship. Turning to the person whose desk is next to yours and saying, “Wow, I can’t believe what a great place to work this is” doesn’t lend to the same natural flow of conversation.
Using work-related complaints to develop relationships is also a lot less risky than introducing personal topics as a means of getting to know people. Sure, you might point to the picture of the cute toddler boy on your coworker’s desk and say, “Is that your son?” But if it’s not, and not having children is a sore topic for the colleague you really don’t know, then bam — you’ve just opened a can of worms without even realizing it. Work gripes, on the other hand, are generally less offensive off the bat.
There’s also a level of underlying trust that’s established when colleagues feel comfortable complaining freely in each other’s presence. And developing those types of relationships can help your career in many ways. Therefore, don’t shy away from voicing your displeasure on the job here and there, because you never know what sort of discussion it might spark, and what sort of connections, or even friendships, ensue as a result.
Furthermore, in voicing your concerns openly, you might encounter a scenario where a colleague has a solution to your problem you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of. And in that case, complaining would actually be a productive thing to do.
That said, don’t cross the line into constant on-the-job crabbiness. There comes a point when too much moaning and groaning will impact other people’s outlook, and if you officially become the office downer, you might struggle to get other people to give you the time of day, let alone get close to you in any way.
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