Monday, August 30, 2010

Gossip and whining

My ex-business Partner Eli once said something that really struck me. We were discussing 'back-channel' gossip that was swirling around a company we invested in and he observed 'if you find that people are approaching you with gossip, be careful, as it probably means you enjoy hearing it and passing it on'.

This was a wonderful observation and led me to an insight around whinning. We've all experienced the 'I wanna' garden whining best illustrated by 5 year old children, they really have little effective means to communicate what they want/need so on some level it's ok. However, I must confess that I've been guilty of the adult variety too. This is when you are stuck on something (for me, usually business oriented) and find yourself complaining to most comers. It's not that the hapless folk you lay your burden on are really interested in the topic, but it just feels good to 'express' yourself.

My college freshman nephew recently lectured me on this topic and his implicit advice was that the bothersome situation is my own gosh darn fault. You see, 'stuff happens', so he explained, and it's not the 'stuff' that's really significant, but what is important is what you do about it and how you react to it. If you are going to sit back and whine, then you deserve the outcome as you sat back complaining, rather than solving the issue. Whining, so he explained, is a sad excuse for inaction.

"Solve it and tell me about how you did it" is far more interesting and rewarding than sad complaining.

He's right.

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