I recently responded to a blog post that was a stream of consciousness account of her massage. She seemed to have not enjoyed the experience, all because she was worried that the massage therapist might touch parts of her body that she was sensitive about – her feet and arm pits. Considering my background, I suggested that before the massage starts to mention what parts she didn’t want touched. She also could comment on amount of pressure during the massage to get what she desired. Her response?

“I knew I could speak up. She even gave me the ‘speak up’ lecture before she started. I’m just not a speaker upper.”

What?!?!?!?!? How do you expect to get what you want if you don’t TELL someone? Are they just supposed to know? What if their crystal ball isn’t working, are you just supposed to be frustrated?

This concept of doing nothing doesn’t work in my head. Growing up with Ma, whenever I’d complain about something, her response was always, ” What have done about it?” If I were sick and had taken something to make me feel better, then I would get sympathy. If not, I was sent on my way to the medicine cabinet … and then back to get sympathy. If it was another issue, she would help me brainstorm some possible solutions and action steps. It would always end with me having something to do right away that would make things better.

Expecting sympathy when nothing’s been done to remedy the situation falls on deaf, and confused, ears with me. Complaining for complaining sake doesn’t accomplish anything and drains the energy of everyone.

An experience lately, though, demonstrates how my solution to the problem and what was ultimately the right solution was really off base. There was a guy in a big truck who every morning for six months at around 6 am would honk his horn 3 increasingly long times to get the attention of his carpool buddy. I came up with an incredibly complicated solution that involved getting his address from the DMV (after I got his license plate number using binoculars, which I don’t happen to own) and then sending him a letter asking him to stop, informing him of the vehicle code he was violating, and sending a copy to the police department. While I’d composed the letter, I hadn’t actually done step one yet, and then one morning, the big truck guy kept his hand on the horn for more than 30 seconds straight. Someone screamed out their window, “Stop it!”. That was all it took. He hasn’t honked in the three months since then.

Who would have thought that the simple, “use your words” solution would have worked? The crazy thing is that never dawned on me as an option! But, I never to complained about it, so I guess I was still following Ma’s rule.

Where do you standing on the whole complaining issue? Does venting help you or are you like me and are left feeling worse if you talk about something but don’t come up with a solution? What would your solution have been to the mad honker?

4 thoughts on “Complainers”

  1. This is so true Tammy. We are, most of us, so hesitant to confront each other directly. And when confronted directly, most of us back down and respect the messenger in the process. I’m pretty bad about confrontation. Getting better. Getting better. The honking man? I probably would have yelled out the window…or sent my husband out to do the dirty deed.


    1. I’m normally willing to confront. I don’t like it most of the time, but I know if I want something (even if that is not allowing the puppy to bark all night long) I have to ask for it. That can be either a note or in person.

      The one time I have no hesitation asking for what I want and speaking my mind at the moment is when I am paying for a service that I consider to be a luxury, especially if I had to save up to get it. If I’m having a massage, I will make it abundantly clear in advance which areas I want to have extra attention and the level of pressure I want. If I see a hair dresser about to make a cut several inches too short, I’ll say something. It’s amazing how motivating it is for me to get my hard earned dollar’s worth out of purchases!


  2. Tammy: I am just like you. My parents never let me complain and they taught me that it does not get me anywhere. I rarely talk about my problems because I would rather use that time to figure out a solution.
    At the end of the day, no one wants to be around a complainer. They are a bunch of negative energy and no one needs that negativity in their lives.


    1. You are so right that negativity repeals people. I’d much rather be around positive people … and I am more than willing to be the sounding board when friends want to talk through problems to find possible solutions. Once the weight of indecision is off of our shoulders, we are all nicer to be around.


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