As an entitled millennial snowflake, complaining about work is one of my favourite things to do. There’s nothing like ringing my best friend to see whose minor grievance is more annoying. And oh yeah, even when there’s nothing wrong, we will find something to be mad about.
Complaining about work to your friends can be a cathartic, freeing experience. Maybe your boss chastised you over something minor. Maybe he or she has overloaded you with menial tasks. It’s good to get all that off your chest, right? Well, not quite.
Complaining about work leads you to dwell on the negatives
That’s what this study published in the European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology says. The scientists behind it conducted an experiment, recruiting a group of people of various employment and asking them to keep a diary.
They were asked to record two entries a day. One noting their mood in the morning and how well they’d slept and later on, another recounting something negative that happened at work. In that entry, they were also asked to include how they felt at that moment, how engaged they currently felt in their job, and to what extent they focused on the negative things rather than the positive.
The findings showed that those who put emphasis on those negative things “reported lower momentary mood and less satisfaction and pride with the work they’d been doing that same day”. They also also admitted to feeling worse when they woke up the next day. But when participants hadn’t complained, escalated minor issues or stewed things over too much, “bad events, even if rated as severe, didn’t impact mood or work engagement, that day or the next.”
So what does that all mean then? Well, what you definitely shouldn’t do is store up all your work-related angst and let it quietly fester as a mental illness. If you have a problem, don’t bottle it up. But dwelling on it rather than looking for productive solutions allows your negative feelings to linger.
Whatever the problem in your office is, there are plenty of actionable ways to solve it. Try taking time out to build resilience to the situation or place more emphasis on self-care during the day. If the issue is between you and your colleagues, maybe try collaborating less and communicating more. Remember, good company culture is as much about the individuals as it is about the team. In most offices, there’s plenty of support, but if you can, try and be solution-orientated and optimistic when facing your problems.