New Chief Happiness Officer Academy announced for Copenhagen in December

Participants from 16 countries at the CHO Academy in June 2019 in Copenhagen

Our regular CHO Academy in June sold out very quickly and had a long waiting list so we added an extra one in November. That one is now also sold out, so we’ve added an extra extra Academy in Copenhagen on December 8-11 2019.

If you want a deep dive into the theory and practice of creating happy workplaces then this is the training for you.

Previous participants loved the training, and said things like:

“Without a doubt, the best training I have ever experienced.”

“I came back to my organisation full of ideas, plans and time lines on how, who and when this was going to happen.”

“An inspiring and energising academy. LOVED every moment of it.”

Read more about the CHO Academy and get your tickets here.

Get 40 online keynotes on happiness at work completely free

Our amazing international partner network have arranged the Global Online Happiness at Work Summit and you can sign up right now and get access to 40 online keynotes from international experts completely free of charge. One of the keynotes is by yours truly on “how to build a strategy for happiness.”

Sign up for the summit right here.

The whole thing takes place on September 23-27 2019 during the International Week Of Happiness At Work – also arranged by our partner network. Check out the website to see all the other activities happening that week around the world.

10 reasons why constant complaining is so toxic at work

Workplace complainers
Back when I was still working in the tech industry (I was a software developer for a small consulting company in my second job out of university) I had a boss that was… shall we say unpopular. My co-workers and I hated his guts and we complained ceaselessly about him.

It got to the point where we couldn’t start a meeting, have lunch in the cafeteria, or even go out for a beer without spending half an hour complaining about him.

We whined about his attitude, his stupidity, his meddling, his spinelessness … hell, even his dress sense came under fire. But then again, he is the only manager who has ever interviewed me wearing a narrow 80s style purple, fake-leather tie.

But did we ever tell him? Nooooooo! While we were bitching and moaning to ourselves, he blithely went on as usual because no one ever complained to him. Which might’ve made sense when you think about it…

Looking back, I’m not sure that complaining to him would have worked – I think he was incorrigible – but one thing is for damn sure: Our moaning about it did not improve things one little bit.

That kind of chronic complaining in the workplace, justified or not, leads to no good. In fact, in can be downright toxic and can help make a department or even a whole company a terrible place to work.

Here’s why constant complaining is so bad:

1: It makes things look worse than they are
When people complain, they focus only on what’s wrong. Things may be mostly fine in the company, but complainers only talk about the problems, annoyances and peeves they perceive.

If things in a company are 80% good and 20% bad and you spend most of your time thinking and talking about the bad 20% – the situation will look a lot worse than it really is.

2: It becomes a habit
The more you complain, the easier it gets. In the end, everything is bad, every situation is a problem, every co-worker is a jerk and nothing is good.

The more you focus on the negative, the harder it gets to switch into a positive mindset.

3: You get what you focus on
According to Wikipedia, Confirmation bias is:

…a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions and avoid information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.

In other words, what you already believe influences your perception of everything around you. That’s why constant complaining makes you see everything in a negative light, because your subconscious mind tries to make new observation fit with what you already know.

4: It leads to onedownmanship
A complaining session might go something like this:

The other day, my boss came in 5 minutes before I was leaving and asked me to finish two huge projects for him. I had to stay two hours and missed my football game.

Yeah, well my boss told me to work this weekend AND the next.

Hah, that’s nothing! My boss…

This type of interaction rewards the person with the worst story who can complain the loudest. Not healthy!

5: It makes people despondent
Not only does constant complaining make you see the workplace as worse than it really is, but because you’re constantly hearing stories of how bad things are and how they’re constantly getting worse it also destroys all hope that things can get better.

This of course makes people less likely to take action to improve their situation, because everybody knows it’s doomed to fail anyway.

6: It kills innovation
Because the situations looks so hopeless, people become less creative and innovative. What’s the point of coming up with ideas and implementing them – it’s never going to work anyway.

Also, chronic complainers are the first to shoot down any new idea.

7: It favors negative people
The way to get status among complainers is to be the most negative. To be the one who sees everything in the most negative light.

Any attempt to be positive or cheerful will be shot down and optimists will be accused of being Pollyanna, naive and unrealistic.

8: It promotes bad relationships
People who complain together unite against the world and can create strong internal relationships based on this. But these relationships are based mostly on negative experiences. That’s not healthy.

It also means that you can only continue to be a part of the group if you can continue to complain, miring you even deeper in a complaint mindset.

9: It creates cliques
Being positive, optimistic and appreciative makes you more open towards other people – no matter who they are. It becomes easy to connect to co-workers in other departments, projects or divisions.

Complaining, on the other hand, makes people gather in cliques with their fellow complainers where they can be critical and suspicious of everybody else.

10: Pessimism is bad for you
Research in positive psychology has shown that people who see the world in a positive light have a long list of advantages, including:

  • They live longer
  • They’re healthier
  • They have more friends and better social lives
  • They enjoy life more
  • They’re more successful at work

We sometimes think that pessimists and complainers have the edge because they see problems sooner but the truth is that optimists not only lead better lives, they’re also more successful because they believe that what they’re doing is going to work.

The upshot

Constant complaining in the workplace is toxic. It can drain the happiness, motivation, creativity and fun from a whole company. Wherever it’s going on it must be addressed and handled properly.

I’m NOT saying that we should never complain at work – quite the contrary. If you see a problem in your workplace, complain to whoever can do something about it.

What we should avoid at all costs, is constant bitching and moaning, where we’re always complaining about the same things, to the same people, in the same way, day in and day out.

So what can we do about it? Well first of all, each of us can learn to complain constructively. This means learning to complain in a way that leads to the problem being fixed – rather than to more complaining. Here’s my post on how you can How to complain constructively.

Secondly, we can learn to deal with the chronic complainers we meet at work. Unfortunately, our traditional strategies like trying to cheer them up or suggesting solutions for their problems don’t work because complainers aren’t looking for encouragement or solutions. Here’s my post on how to deal with chronic complainers.

Finally, you can train your own ability to be positive. Just like complaining can become a habit, so can being appreciative, optimistic and grateful. You could declare today a positive day, you could take a few minutes at the end of every work day to write down five good experiences from that day or you could praise a co-worker.

Try it and let me know how it goes!

Your take

But what do you think? Do you know any chronic complainers at work? What is their impact? How do you complain, when you see a problem?

Please write a comment, I’d really like to know!

Related

Here are some related posts about workplace complaining:

52 countries

I am back from doing a workshop on happiness at work for the staff at the Cambridge International School in Tashkent. This was our first gig in Uzbekistan and that means that we’ve now worked with clients in 52 countries!!!

Here’s the full list:

Antigua, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Curacao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Guatemala. Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

Read more about our keynotes and workshops and book us here.

See us speak around the world

We’re speaking at some awesome events around the world – join us and learn how to make workplaces happier and more succesful.

September 19-20, Krakow: Poland’s first conference on happiness at work

September 27, Brussels: Closing event for the International Week of Happiness At Work

October 10-11, Prague: the 5th Czech Happiness@Work conference

October 29-30, Santiago de Chile: Happy People Better Business conference

We’re also contributing to the first Global Online Happiness At Work Summit in September, which you can attend for free!

Our 4 best tips for a happy vacation

The Summer holidays are right around the corner here in the northern hemisphere and I am really excited for it. No matter how much you love your job, you should still look forward to some time off, where you can do something completely different.

But it’s important to do your vacation right. If not, you risk ruining the whole thing by doing emails at the pool or by feeling bad about the work you didn’t do before going on vacation. That’s not doing anyone any favors – not even the workplace – because time off from work is a prerequisite for happiness and productivity.

So here are our 4 best tips for having a happy vacation.

1: Actually take a vacation

I can’t believe I even have to say this, but in many countries people don’t take the vacation time they’re entitled to. One person wrote this comment on my blog:

I’m 34 and haven’t had a real vacation since my childhood vacations with my parents. The only way I manage to take an entire week off at a time (I work in IT) is when I’m able to schedule a week or two of “unemployment” between jobs, and in those periods, spending money on a trip is not wise.

I’m tied to my email/pager even on weekends and holidays and on the scattered “vacation” days I can take. Most Americans only get 2-3 weeks of combined sick and vacation time in any case, and professionals are expected to read email and be available, even on their days “off”.

I wonder how many people are able to have a real vacation these days!

US workers typically get very little vacation time, and often don’t even take all the vacation they do get. The Japanese have a similar problem where many workers don’t take the vacation days they’re entitled because they feel they’re letting down their coworkers.

Take your vacations. And if you work for a company that refuses to understand that human beings need time off from work, quit and go work for a company that actually cares about its people.

2: Get organized before you go

Clear out any outstanding work and your email inbox. This will give you clarity and control of any tasks. This sounds boring but it’s quite satisfying to get your work organized and go on vacation with an empty inbox.

And if you know there are important tasks that you can’t get done before you leave, hand them over to a coworker in plenty of time. Make sure to hand over the task with all necessary information so it’s easy for your coworkers to take over. That also keeps them from having to disturb you on your vacation, so you’re helping both them and yourself.

3: Don’t work on your vacation

Don’t bring the company mobile and don’t read work-related emails. Take a real vacation and let your brain do something completely different.

Instead, spend some time doing new things you’ve wanted to try for a long time but haven’t had time for. Go rollerskating, windsurfing, fishing or whatever strikes your fancy. Can I suggest swing dancing? It’s amazing!

Or maybe just kick off your shoes and go lie in a hammock. Stare out at the water. Have days with no plans and time for reflection.

4: Close your email inbox completely

If you have some vacation time coming up, and if you’re like most people, you will put up an autoreply email just before you leave, saying that you’re gone, when you’ll be back and who to contact if it’s urgent.

I have talked to many people who mention both of these as a source of stress and I’ve just seen too many parents on family vacations handling work emails on their phone/laptop by the pool, when they should’ve been playing with their kids.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative: Close your inbox while you’re away. This may seem like a weird idea but some workplaces are already doing it. Here’s how you can close your inbox completely on your vacation.

I’m taking all of July off and I will be doing exactly that.

The upshot

For crying out loud: Take your vacation time and make it a good one.

Related posts

 

Meet the 24 newest Chief Happiness Officers from our Academy

Meet the graduates from our 9th CHO Academy – 24 people from 16 countries came to Copenhagen for our intensive 3-day training in the theory and practice of happiness at work.

We had a fantastic time both in the training, on the site visit to IIH Nordic to study how they have created a happy organization with a 4-day work week and in the social activities around Copenhagen.

Íf you’re interested in learning all we know about happiness at work, the next Academy is in November in Copenhagen.

Here are some of our favorite photos from this Academy.

Announcing an extra CHO Academy, November 5-8 2019 in Copenhagen

Graduates from the 2018 Academy in Copenhagen

We are really excited for our next Chief Happiness Officer Academy this month. 25 participants from 16 countries are coming to Copenhagen to learn all the theory and practice of creating happy workplaces.

Amazingly, the Academy sold out over three months ago and even has long waiting list. So we have decided to add an extra Academy this year on November 5-8 in Copenhagen.

This is a great chance to come to one of the world’s happiest countries and learn all about happiness at work.

Read more about the Chief Happiness Officer Academy, see the full agenda and get your tickets here.

UPDATE: We just announced the November Academy and we already sold the first ticket :) Looks like these will be going fast too!