qbq, personal accountability, no complaining

As Karen and I dined at a Denver-based restaurant chain, the manager, Nate, stopped by our table to see how we were doing. One thing led to another, and—as is my wont—I mentioned the QBQ! book to him and gave my usual 15-second book summary. It goes like this:

“Yep, QBQ! is an easy one-hour read about personal accountability and how to deliver outstanding customer service while eliminating blame, finger-pointing, whining, procrastination, and complaining.”

When I hit that last word, he was all over it like a cheap suit. 🙂

Shaking his head, Nate declared, “Man, we’re always working on that around here. We held a team meeting just this morning on the topic of complaining and how it hurts the team.”

That’s when my wife chimed in with a QBQ! book story I hadn’t heard yet. Earlier that day, she’d visited our local UPS store. The manager there has a QBQ! book because I gave it to him last Fall.

During this visit, the UPS gent said to Karen, “Ah, so you’re Mrs. QBQ! Let me tell you what we do with your husband’s book: When team members start complaining, I tell them to go to the backroom and read three chapters of QBQ! They always return with a better attitude!”

Whatever works.

ComplainingWe All Do It.

In Raising Accountable Kids, my wife of 37+ years actually wrote this:

John wears a sign around his neck at home that screams “CHIEF COMPLAINER.” Being a verbal guy who likes to express every thought as declaratory statements, candid observations, and unsolicited counsel, John often sounds like he’s complaining. Sometimes, he is.

The problem with complaining is, well, everything. It wastes energy and time while bringing down the “mood” of teams, departments, and homes. It rarely adds value.

Sure, once in a while complaining can initiate problem-solving and something might be made better as a result. Mostly, though, complaining is just victim thinking in the form of a lousy verbal habit that grates on others.

Knowing his propensity to complain and the impact it has on others, John sometimes asks this fairly odd but critical-for-him QBQ (tutorial on QBQs):

“What can I do right now to keep my big mouth shut?!” 🙂

Of course, better QBQs would be:

“How can I be more positive?”

“What can I do to find the good?”

“How can I offer a solution to the problem?”

Those are outstanding questions and anyone can ask them, whether she/he works at a shipping store, restaurantor your organization.

What is the #1 consequence of complaining?

When do you tend to complain the most?


60 Responses

  1. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? Others join in with the negativity
    When do you tend to complain the most? When others are complaining

  2. #1 consequence of complaining? Maybe it’s double-edged: that the negativism influences the complainer’s paradigms, and that in the process it decreases the complainer’s esteem in the eyes of the complainees?

  3. The #1 consequence is my attitude plummets. It colors all my thoughts with negative hues, leading me to believe this is nothing good and nothing I can do to change it. I abdicate my responsibility and wait for someone else to “fix it.”

  4. Complaining causes negativity on all levels of business!
    I complain the most when I file a department shopping list with my supervisor and it never gets filled. EVER.
    …Also when I ask for a box of screws and he hands me 4…
    (True story!)

  5. Complaining is contagious. Rarely does a person unleash a list of grievances and everyone in hearing distance says “Wow, he’s a complainer.” They might be thinking it, but ultimately people tend to chime in and it becomes a domino effect. The negativity spreads and people begin to worry about what others are doing, instead of just being concerned about their own work and what they can control.

    I am not immune to complaining, of course, and my worst time of day is the evening. I come home to a messy house, or arguing family and I start in on something trivial which I know is directly linked to something that was out of my control earlier in the day. Fortunately, I have a partner who says “I don’t know who you are arguing with in your mind, but I’m not participating.” That takes me right out of my pity party and puts me back in the right frame of mind.

  6. #1 consequence of complaining – loss of self-worth; followed by loss of credibility with others; wasted time, spreading negativity, and zapping energy.

    Love QBQ,
    Karen Arnold

  7. I was complaining about a co-worker when my boss handed me a copy of the QBQ book. His answer was not to blame me for complaining. Just read the book. It was a deft move and I learned more from reading the book, than if he had corrected me for complaining.
    I still fall into the trap of wanting to complain. It is usually when some does something I don’t like. I almost immediately see (in my mind’s eye) the look on my patient manager’s face when he gave me the book. I try to rephrase the question to something more useful. Usually what can I do to make the situation better, instead of complaining about someone else.

  8. #1 consequence of complaining is that it leads to victim thinking. Which in turn, leads to being less productive. Complaining can also bring others down, as they can being to complain as well.
    I tend to complain the most when I am not happy with something. It leads me to be unhappy with other things.

  9. #1 consequence of complaining is that people stop listening to you. It’s the boy who cried wolf syndrome. Then when it is important, no one will bother to listen to you as you complain all the time.

    Normally I only complain to my friends. We try to have B***** sessions about work, etc to get our frustrations out in a friendly environment. We make sure to leave it there though and move on to more positive discussions.

  10. In French, the verb for complaining is “se plaindre,” which literally means, “to pity oneself.” Every time the French mention they are complaining, they are saying at the same time they pity themselves. Others would do well to remember complaining is, by definition, focusing on self and forgetting others; at its essence, complaining is selfish.

  11. In my experience, the consequence of a complainer or complaining is that no one wants to be around you and they don’t take your opinions and input seriously. I work with a complainer. And while I like this person, they seem to have a “beef” about EVERYthing. The free food a vendor brings in and they complain. The weather and the roads not being cleared off. The way the restroom smells, the distance they walk from the parking lot, ad naseum. I don’t find myself joining in because I can barely stand to listen to this person. This person reminds me of the boy who cried wolf. There’s so much crying going on, no one takes this person seriously any longer. That’s not a good place to be in.

    I tend to complain the most where children (my brood) is concerned. They’re not very good at putting things away despite years of repetitive training. So when I get home from work and see a hurricane in the kitchen or living room, I complain A LOT. They’re good kids. But I have expectations at this stage in the game (they’re all teenagers). You’d think MY complaining would drive them to avoid the same issues so in future they didn’t have to hear me. But somehow I think they must like my complaining 😀

  12. #1 consequence of complaining – breakdown of the team’s energy to meeting the expectations of our customers.

    #2 – I seem to complain the most when I am not taking care of myself with nutritional eating, exercising and sleeping.
    Again, breaking down that energy that I need to keep going and find resolutions instead of complaining.

    Love QBQ!

    Lori Schuppan

  13. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? in almost every case you become a target or a part of the problem. You identify yourself as a someone who does not want to invest the time to discovering a situation and creating a solution. By being a complainer your actually attach yourself to the problem.

  14. What is the #1 consequence of complaining?

    Time waster! Too much complaining is not productive to one’s daily – weekly work schedule and productivity. Read the book … learn from it, and move on.

    When do you tend to complain the most?
    When I am tired, hungry and have no control over what is going on with the daily work schedule. (when too many hands try to get involved … and when things become too complicated and confusing). AKA: when lack of communication is a culprit from the leaders and the team is scattering in all directions unsure of what direction to take.

  15. The consequence of complaining is that it zaps your energy and most of all makes you feel bad. Complaining always spills over. You do not want to be that “complaining person” in your organization.

    I complain the most at home. I leave for work with a very neat house and come back…well let’s just say to a mess. It is frustrating however, I have learned to shut my mouth and deal with the mess after I have been in the house for a few hours. This actually keeps peace so that I can enjoy the rest of the evening.

  16. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? Lost productivity & missing opportunities
    When do you tend to complain the most? When you are having a bad day or when you allow others around you to bring you down.

  17. #!. Complaining causes me to lose self-confidence, my confidence sags and I hurt my own reputation.

    #2. I complain most when things don’t go my way….when others interrupt my plan, they way things are ‘supposed to be’. 🙂

  18. The consequence with chronic complainer is all negative thoughts. You can ask them for there ideas or solution to resolve the problem, but 9 times out of 10 they haven’t even thought about a solution.

    I tend to complain when I’m feeling overwhelmed or tired.

  19. #1 consequence of complaining is that it brings everyone else down and decreases morale in a team or family.

    We tend to complain most when others are complaining. It’s human nature to commiserate with others.

  20. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? It is not motivating and it is mood killing, I think it sucks the hope out of something or someone.
    I tend to complain the most when I get home, about how irritated my co workers get me during the day. Also, when I am already irked at something, but I remain silent at first, then someone else complains then the flood gates open

  21. What is the #1 consequence of complaining?
    Bringing down the moral of those around you, whether your family, peers or direct reports. You become part of the original issue in a negative way, instead of focusing on fixing the problem you face.

    When do you tend to complain the most?
    Sadly, it is after I clean up after my children and then find their next mess…. My wife and I have 4 children. 5,6 and 9,10…. It’s a vicious cycle of toys and we do our best to hold them accountable, but it’s a work in progress. Thankfully, they are usually working on their next mess as I clean up the previous one and complain to myself. :p

  22. #1 consequence of complaining? For me the #1 consequence is I build up a resentment toward those I’m complaining about; never a good thing. Not to mention it is so draining on me emotionally. And at the end of the day nothing is accomplished. It has been pointed out to me that by complaining no problem is being solved. Frankly complaining is a waste of time if I don’t work toward solving the problem I’m complaining about.
    When do I tend to complain the most? Usually when I’m overly tired; easily a problem I can solve. Also, when I feel no one is paying attention to the extra work I’m doing; just writing that sounds like I’m “two” (I’m not, lol) but again a problem I can solve. If I speak up and ask for help or talk about whatever is “eating” at me, the problem can be solved. It is a win win.

  23. The #1 consequence of complaining is it make the person you are complaining about feel unappreciated and undervalued and then you feel bad for making them feel bad. It’s a vicious cycle of negativity.

    I complain the most when others haven’t taken care of their own messes or haven’t done what I feel they should do.

  24. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? – My attitude degrades and my thoughts start sinking until I have lost perspective on the problem. This leads me down a path of no solutions, low morale, and a negative outlook.

    When do you tend to complain the most? – When I feel that things are not fair for me.

  25. What is the #1 consequence of complaining?
    It’s insidiousness in eventually affecting every part of your life without you realizing it. Instead of being a team player and building morale you have now become the chief team breaker and lower morale until there is no team left.

    When do you tend to complain the most?
    I complain the most when I begin to compare how I am being treated to how I perceive others being treated “better” and shown “more” respect by our supervisor than I am. I need to remember everyone has a story and they may be going through a very difficult time right now. I don’t need to know details. I just need to keep my head down and do the best job I can and help my coworkers when I can.

  26. 1. alienation…complaining pushes people away
    2. when I am hurt…my complaining is done mostly when I’m hurt and feel out of control

    thank you for this post, it is reminding me to keep my big mouth shut!!!

  27. The most negative consequence in complaining, is repelling others around you who are forced to listen to you. Complaining only attracts complainers, and drives away the optimist! Unfortunately, not everyone can run away when a complainer is on the loose. Some people will quietly listen, but inside are shutting down, putting up walls to block out the incessant noise, and often find themselves silently complaining about the complainer! It’s a negative cycle.

    I complain the most when I am commiserating with the complainer. Or when I’m bored and there’s no chocolate to be found.

  28. What is the #1 consequence of complaining?
    I believe that it really is the fact that you are not moving in a forward direction-you are stuck in the muck of the issue that you are complaining about and nothing is getting better. Without a remedy this tends to affect attitude, productivity, service and results.

    When do you tend to complain the most?
    I tend to complain the most when i do not understand or see the why behind the what. typically once i see that, whether or not I agree, I can move forward.

  29. The biggest result of complaining depends on who you’re with. Either it’ll turn you off to people or it’ll turn you ON to people because it gives them the green light to start complaining as well! I complain the most when I see something that’s not fair, but I decide it’s not something I feel like doing anything about.

    I also think there’s a fine line and important distinction about complaining and reporting a problem. If you go to a store, for example, and receive bad service – if you report it to the manager are you complaining or are you helping the manager know there is a problem at the store with one of their employees? Complaining is bad, reporting problems is good. Sometimes the EXACT same words could be said to do both, but the meaning and impact each has couldn’t be more different.

  30. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? – Lowered morale.

    When do you tend to complain the most? – When I’m tired.

  31. The #1 consequence of complaining is loss of trust & working relationships. When you complain people start to lose interest in working with you because you seem to spend more time finding all the reasons something won’t work, can’t work or is too much work. This will break down the working relationship.

    I tend to complain the most when I don’t feel I am being heard. Which is counterproductive because what I should be doing is seeking to understand before expecting to be understood.

  32. Consequence of complaining? – others get tired of listening to you and will avoid you.
    When do I complain the most? When I don’t feel empowered to take action.

  33. Jeff Linn
    #1 Consequence of Complaining?
    Aside from others “steering clear of you,” when we complain we attract the crowd that does the same. Even more than many of the above reasons, complaining is awful for our overall health. When we complain (and we all do) we release the stress hormone cortisol. … One effect of cortisol is to raise your blood pressure and blood sugar so that we will be prepared to either escape or defend ourselves. As a society we do it too much, but not very effectively. What if we could complain only if we had solutions for our complaint afterward?

    When do we complain the most?
    We tend to complain the most when we don’t have answers, are stressed, sad, tired, or angry. This when it’s critical to pray, decompress, or speak to a mentor (aka-complaining companion–keep it at a few and don’t include your spouse).

  34. The number one consequence of complaining is the same as with any negative talk. It brings down your own mood as well as anyone else around you! Complaining never SOLVES.

    I tend to complain to my husband, after my small children have gone to bed. I try to keep that type of behavior away from the kids, but sometimes I just need to vent about work, or diaper changes, or the dirty dishes! I believe it can be good to get these trivial items off my chest. I do my best to not place blame on anyone but myself when complaining, because as previously stated, complaining never solves, but holding myself accountable will.

  35. On a personal level, I have found the #1 consequence of complaining is that, more often than not, I’m assigned or ‘volunteered’ to fix the problem. I guess it’s only fair, if I’m the one who sees/verbalizes it to be an issue, then I should be involved in identifying the root issue and help to find the solution.

  36. What is the #1 consequence of complaining?
    The #1 consequence of complaining is it starts to take the whole ship down with it once it starts and sometimes, it is hard to plug the holes.
    When do you tend to complain the most?
    I seem to complain the most once I get home from work, I am tired, and see that my children have not done their chores.

  37. What is the #1 consequence of complaining?
    Everything! It’s like a virus – complaining can can spread…..
    There is no value to complaining as it wastes everyones time, energy the mood thoughout your team, department and even possibly your home life. It also brings down the person listening to the complaining who may of had a positive attitude during the course of the day.
    When do you tend to complain the most?
    When things are out of my control and there isn’t anything that i can do about it. Then I just brush it off raise my hands in the air and say to myself, “Let it go”! It always works…..a comment my oldest sister taught me long ago.

  38. The most significant consequence of complaining is that each time we complain, the physiological connections of the neurons in our brains are reinforced for further complaining. Really!

    Here is a very interesting article by Dr. Travis Bradberry that explains why the biggest complainers are literally habitual complainers–they have unintentionally developed their neural pathways to such an extent that they have to be extremely intentional to NOT complain :

  39. For me, the #1 consequence of complaining is that it’s contagious and it usually creates a cloud of negativity with it.

    I tend to complain the most when people are not doing what I think they should, the way I think they should be doing it. Mostly it is when whatever they are doing or not doing interferes with whatever I’m doing. That’s why I appreciate the perspective of QBQ, it brings things back to me and what “I” can be doing, instead of focusing on what others are or are not doing.

  40. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? Complaining permeates through the entire team hindering greatness that could be accomplished

    When do you tend to complain the most? I tend to complain (just a little) when I feel I have not been informed/included in topics that directly impact my work/team.

  41. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? Complaining develops a negative perception of a person’s willingness to build teamwork in a positive manner to help drive success.

    When do you tend to complain the most? When I see a lack of positive attitudes and teamwork and co-workers making every effort to support one another to help drive success.

  42. #1 consequence of complaining is the loss of joy it causes for both the complainer and everyone else within earshot.
    I complain the most when I am in pain and exhausted.

  43. What is the #1 consequence of complaining?
    Bringing those around you down instead of lifting them up.

    When do you tend to complain the most?
    When I feel I am truly wronged and nobody appears to understand that I have been wronged.

  44. Complaining attracts negative responses from people around me. I see it every time.

    I complain the most when I feel I was wronged by the people, government, and businesses. Funny thing after I do I see am accountable and can change myself.

  45. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? Diminished work capacity because everybody is complaining instead of focusing on the customer. When do you tend to complain the most? When my wife is sick and I am asking God why.

  46. What is the #1 consequence of complaining? It just becomes a dog pile of other complaints! It goes from hearing one issue to now hearing every issue someone has bouncing around in their heads!! It is a waterfall of negativity that drowns all that participate!!

  47. The consequence of complaining is that it rarely adds any value and it is a waste of time and energy.
    When I complain the most is when things go wrong, its not really complaining, it more like venting/

  48. Complaining “sucks the life” out of those around you and can draw others in to participate in the negativity. Just like gossiping it can be easy to join in even though you know better. Complaining certainly does not promote that positive attitude we strive for or experiencing that sense of gratitude in our lives.

    I find I complain the most when I am tired, overwhelmed or just not feeling well. I try to remember that I am very blessed in my life and that what I am complaining about is mundane in comparison to what others are going through in there lives. We have a dear friend that suffered several strokes in succession at the age of 52. He is trapped inside a body that is failing and will never leave the nursing home. What right do I have to complain when he is going through that! It certainly puts things in perspective.

  49. What is the #1 consequence of Complaining? wasted time/productivity. Negative focused time that can never be regained or changed into positively focused time.

  50. The #1 consequence of complaining for me is separation: Separation from those around me as I see them as the “other” or the “problem”, and separation from the possibility of finding a positive solution.

  51. There are so many, but perhaps the most positive negative consequence is a trip down memory lane to kindergarten!
    I find myself complaining the most when I am talking to myself… well, it’s more of a mumbling sound.

  52. 1. I notice when I complain the conversation becomes one-sided, then people tend to stay away. This doesn’t feel good because I like people. ?

    2. When I am with a trusted friend (so I can speak freely; maybe find a solution), and feeling uncomfortable in a situation or I don’t understand specific actions of another that has caused me additional work or emotional distress.

  53. The number one consequence of complaining is reliving the event or situation you are complaining about. It already happened. Every time you complain about it, it happens again.
    I tend to complain the most when tired and/or frustrated.

  54. If we rule out the quick, knee-jerk complaint (darn, where did all this traffic come from) that is situational and short lived, then I think the biggest consequence of complaining is your mindset. Constant complaining about everything eliminates the possibility of believing there could be (is) something good about the situation(s). Quoting Dr. Wayne Dyer, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

  55. #1 consequence – sucks the fun out of everything, kills morale, creates a culture of entitlement, hinders innovation and production. I tend to complain most when someone else starts it – I feel inclined to “”chime in”.

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