How to be a More Productive Complainer (for Chiropractors)
Hey everyone, this is Dr. George Birnbach. Welcome to another edition of how to be a better complainer. Well listen, I’m not joking. I think that when we’re in practice and when I’m talking to doctors on the phone or at seminars, everyone tries to be positive, and that’s great. You’re always trying to see the good things. You’re always trying to find the way through but let’s be realistic. Sometimes stuff’s driving you crazy. It’s driving you mad and you need to find a way to be a more productive complainer. Now I know that there are people who hear that and they go, that’s not me, I’m gonna lead with passion, lead with enthusiasm. But look, in the course of a real day there’s a lot to gripe about some days. And I’m not talking about victim speak. You don’t make yourself a victim in your practice.
But there’s a lot to gripe about and there are some techniques to complain more productively. You see, the average person if we track the research on this, they complain or want to complain between 15 and 30 times a day. 15 and 30 times a day. If you sleep for eight hours, that’s still a whole lot of complaining in the hours that are left, do you see what I mean? That’s at least once and usually twice an hour. And according to Will Bowen who wrote the book “A Complaint Free World”, complaining’s normal. We’re emotional. We care about the practice, we care about the practitioners, we care about the patients. And especially these days the world gives us a whole lot to complain about. You see some research actually suggests that complaining can be a useful tool to drop the stress level down, at least inside of yourself, and clear out your head of the clutter so you can find a better way through. And complaining, if you do it right, can be a useful tool to process emotions and actually bond to other people, right? But you have to do it in the right way ’cause it’s easy to get into the habit of complaining constantly but acting inconsistently. And that is where you really start to find yourself emitting negativity and falling into the trap of seeing the worst in people or the worst in things. And that’s not what this video is all about.
This video is supposed to be a little bit fun talking about how to be a more productive complainer, but in reality, people will always have gripes about certain things and you have to learn to deal with those, so let’s not, let’s just talk about how to complain in a more productive way with a few steps. The first way is I want you to track your complaints. Just tracking the number of times that you are running into issues that annoy you will help you. Try it for a day. Estimate how many times a day you complain and then starting from the moment you wake up, if you keep track of these things in a little notebook or on a phone you will become more conscious of how you approach your day. You’ll complain less, which is good. But more importantly, you will be creating a list of what do you do drills. And these what do you do drills are important because you’ll see them and they become the training mechanisms for your office. So when this happens, what do you do? The next time it happens you’ll have a system laid out for it. After that, when you have a list, try to categorize the complaints. There was a psychologist named Robert Biswas-Diener, Robert Biswas-Diener, and he wrote “The Courage Quotient” and “Happiness”, right? And these are, there are three types of complaints, and knowing where your complaints fell on this list would help you become more strategic.
The first were chronic complaints, and these were persistent complaints by people who were just never satisfied anyway. Chronic complainers have a tendency to go over and over problems and focus on the setbacks of those problems. And those people who have nonstop complaints without actually taking steps forward to improve the situation, those are truly the negative complaint models. And we have to make a note of those so we can spot ’em. The second is venting. Venting is just getting stuff off your chest. It’s like screaming into a closet or yelling at the moon, right? Venting is primarily about just clearing out the clutter and then getting some kind of validation or support with, you know what? We can bond on that, that’s not good and I’m not gonna let you go through that alone. An example of venting might be calling a friend to complain about something annoying just to get some support and listening to their advice or addressing an issue with someone else’s, someone else by your side, and that’s not a bad place to be, you know? Sometimes venting is good as long as you can keep it in context. And then the third type from this book “The Courage Quotient” was instrumental complaints, and these are complaints that have a goal of finding a shared solution. And quite honestly they’re very positive ways to complain. They state the problem as the first step in a longer process.
An example might be someone who complains about the new patients never getting their check-in calls before their new patient appointment. You know, hey, this is a problem that keeps coming up, and this is the outcome it’s having. So if we change this it’ll have that outcome instead, you see what I mean? So complaining is a very interesting, it’s very dynamic. There are a lot of layers to it, but chronic complaining, that only brings you and everyone else around you down. So we wanna really put a red highlighter through it and notice the people who do it. They probably don’t have a space on your team long-term. Then we have venting, and venting has a place. It clears out the clutter, it gets away everything that’s boiling up inside of you so resentment doesn’t show up. And then you can think more clearly and you feel better ’cause you get some support. It’s not victim speak. Victim speak is very damaging and you don’t want it in your life.
But complaining is somewhat normal, right? But instrumental complaining is the most productive type of complaining. I can’t believe I’m shooting a whole video on how to complain better but I think it’s important. It’s a good leadership skill, a good management skill. You can’t be positive all the time unless you’re just holding up that veneer, that facade. But instrumental complaining is productive. Instead of wallowing in all the problems around you, your identifying things that are problematic and doing something about them. And the final thing I wanna tell you, it’s one of the best ways that you can ever complain, is just add an ending to that sentence. Follow all of your complaints with, and this is what I’m going to be doing about it. You know, I hate this, I don’t like how this is happening, and this is what I’m going to be doing about it. Hey, here’s a problem I see up at the front desk and this is what I’m gonna do about it.
To complain more effectively one trick is to always follow the complaint, always follow that gripe, with the question what am I going to do about it? Or the statement, this is what I’m going to do about it, you see? Sophia Amoruso, who wrote the book “Girlboss”, shared a passage in that book and it’s really enlightening, and it says, if you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, if you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, stop for a second. Have you actually flat-out asked for it? If you haven’t, stop complaining. You can’t expect the world to read your mind. You have to put it out there. And sometimes putting it out there is as simple as saying, hey, can I have this instead of that, you see? Asking for what you want can be scary but what’s your alternative? Your alternative is just to feel bad by everything happening around you and feeling that you’re at effect of it or in a victim state about it. So don’t worry if you wanna complain about something. Worry about the type of complaining it is. And if you really wanna take control of that follow it with that short sentence, and this is what I’m gonna do about it, all right?
My name’s Dr. George Birnbach. I hope this helped you complain a little better. All right, if you need some help, reach out to me. I’d love to help you in any way I can and I’ll talk to you all real soon. Have fun with this one. I had fun making it. I hope you had fun listening to it because there aren’t many times I get to get on camera and teach people to complain a little more productively.