Work isn’t perfect, right? But if you are lucky enough to have a job right now, it pays to remember that millions of Americans don’t think you have a thing to complain about. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent. Even more troubling, the New York Times reports that unemployed people are spending longer periods between jobs. In December 2008, only 22.9 percent of people were unemployed for twenty-seven weeks or longer. A year later, in December 2009, a whopping 37.8 percent of people were unemployed for twenty-seven weeks or more. That means that nearly 40 percent of our nation’s unemployed have gone without jobs for nearly seven months, which means they’d likely not be sympathetic to any of these complaints.
Complaint #1: Your Salary
At some point in your career, the chances are good that you’ll feel unsatisfied with your salary. While moaning about your salary is common, it isn’t very helpful. The reality is that salaries differ across jobs, across regions, and even within companies. While it is true that the average sales or accounting professional gets paid more in San Francisco than in Fargo, it doesn’t mean that the work of either employee is more or less valuable than the other. The cost of living varies greatly across the country and salaries everywhere reflect these regional differences. The bottom line is that companies want to make money. Companies know which team members can make that goal a reality. Employees that generate revenue are almost always compensated accordingly, so instead of complaining, try to deliver consistently excellent work. Ideally, your salary should reflect your contribution to the company and leave both you and your company satisfied.
Complaint #2: Your Disappearing Perks
Did your company used to give you free food and weekly happy hours? Those things were nice, but not necessary. America is in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, so obviously your company isn’t going to spring for all of the perks it used to. If your company has to decide between laying off ten people and cutting your catering budget, which would you rather they do? Perks are not required and should not be expected, only appreciated.
Companies understand that while perks are expensive, maintaining company culture is priceless. Rather than complaining about your misfortune, help out and be creative. If you used to get free cookies on Fridays, why not organize a calendar for employees to take turns baking their own confections for the team?
Complaint #3: Your Personal Life
Do you have an epic hangover? Are your roommates annoying? Did you and your honey get into a huge fight last night? These tidbits may be interesting to you and your friends, but they are not very appropriate complaints to share with coworkers. Your job is independent of your personal life and it should be treated as such. There is nothing wrong with having friends at work, but using the entire office as a platform to vent about your personal tragedies is never a good idea.
Instead of announcing your tragic affairs to everyone, save the news for your lunch break where you can fill your friends in on all the devastating details.
Complaint #4: Your Workload
So you’re super busy, totally tired, and ready to freak out. Too bad, so is everyone else. You are not a delicate snowflake. You are not a precious miracle. You are a paid employee and but one member of a busy team. Complaining about having too much work, while cathartic, is not going to inspire confidence in your colleagues.
Instead of letting that pile of work overwhelm you, make lists of attainable goals and stick to your deadlines. Eliminate distractions and plow through your to-do list. Save all that energy you spent complaining, and focus it on getting things done. You’ll be a happier and more productive team member if you do—we promise.
Complaint #5: The Lack of Nearby Food Options
Not all offices are created equal. Some offices are in the middle of vibrant cities with dozens of restaurants, cafes, bodegas, and food carts within easy walking distance. Others are in suburban office parks inconveniently removed from everything. If you want the former, limit your job search to thriving urban centers. If you want to live in the suburbs, you shouldn’t be surprised at how far you have to drive to get to Applebee’s.
Instead of complaining about your culinary limitations, why not plan ahead and bring your own lunch? You’ll save loads of money and will probably eat a lot healthier if you make your lunch the night before. Don’t concentrate on your lack of options; concentrate on the thousands of dollars you’ll save by not having to eat out for a whole year.
Complaint #6: Your Cube
Office space is expensive and companies spend mountains of money each year paying for it. Cubicles, while not the most dynamic work environments, provide a design solution that allows many people to work in a small space with a modicum of privacy. If you want the corner office then you need to take steps to achieve that goal—complaining about your cube will not get you promoted out of your cube.
Like it or not, you’re going to spend many hours at your desk. Instead of feeling trapped by your work environment, why not personalize it? Bring plants, artwork, photographs, and organizational details that will make you feel good about your workplace.
Complaint #7: Your Temperature
Businesses are interested in creating a productive work environment, not a snuggly nap room or a frozen icebox. Consequently, your employer will set the thermostat within a (hopefully humane) range that encourages productivity. No matter where you work, somebody is going to be too cold and somebody else is going to be too hot. However, you’re not in kindergarten—whining about the temperature is futile. If you’re cold, bring a coat. If you’re still cold, then bring a personal space heater. If you’re hot, dress in layers. If you’re still hot, then bring a fan. It’s easy!
Not everybody is going to agree on the perfect temperature. Instead of complaining about the mercury, take steps to address your personal comfort so you can concentrate on work.
Complaint #8: Your Boss/Manager
You may not love your boss. You may not even like your boss. As important as this fact is to you, it doesn’t mean that the entire office wants to hear about it. In a perfect world, you would harmonize with all of your colleagues. In this world, you don’t need to be friends with your boss to work together professionally. Minimize the personal distractions and focus on the larger issues of achieving company goals.
If you don’t want to have a boss, why not explore your entrepreneurial faculties and start your own business? If things pan out, perhaps you can quit your old job and work for yourself. Who knows, maybe one day you will become the boss and have the opportunity to see what it’s like to have your subordinates complain about you and your management style.
Complaint #9: Your (Elusive) Promotion
Everybody wants a promotion. Everybody wants to make more money and have more authority. However, promotions are rare and must be earned rather than demanded. As much as you may feel otherwise, you are not entitled to a promotion. Simply maintaining your job does not mean you deserve to be promoted. Inertia does not count as a reasonable argument for why you should be given more responsibility.
If you want a promotion, you need to do more than want. First, you should set goals with your manager and discuss the skills that need to be learned and the steps that need to be taken to achieve said goals. Achieving a promotion is about working hard and working well.
Complaint #10: Your Commute
Protesting your commute is pointless; you knew where your office was located when you accepted the job. Donald Trump happens to own the building in which he both lives and works. Mr. Trump “commutes” to his office in a private elevator. You, however, are not Donald Trump, and while your commute is worse as a consequence, the upside is that you are not Donald Trump. Neither your home nor your office is going to get any more proximate by your constant moaning.
Instead, take steps to improve the commute. If you have to drive, utilize your time by listening to podcasts and books on tape. Ask your coworkers if they’d like to organize a carpool together. By carpooling, you’ll be able to share the burden of driving and it may also allow you to take advantage of carpool lanes, which will lessen the amount of time you spend in transit. If you can take the bus or train, you can use this time to study, work on email, or read for pleasure before your workday gets started. If things get really desperate, you could always look into relocating your house or apartment closer to your place of business.
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By Adam Starr for Excelle