According to a 2014 Forbes study,in today’s workplace about 80% of employees are disengaged. And as we all know, where there are disengaged employees, there’s usually complaining, gossiping and whinging. None of which are helpful behaviours.. or are they?
Let’s face it, negative and disengaged people aren’t fun to be around. They rarely bring out the best in others. They sabotage their own careers. They look unproductive. And who would trust them to do a project, sell a product or manage a team, let alone promote them to a job with more responsibility?
But is complaining always unhelpful?
In my experience there is also a type of complaining that leads to people designing ways to break through problem situations.
Firstly, let’s make the distinction between the non-productive recreational complaining, described previously, and productive criticism or, as I like to call it, committed complaining.
The basic approach of a ritual dissent workshop involves a spokesperson presenting a series of ideas to a group who receives them in silence. The spokesperson then turns their chair, so that their back is to the audience and listens in silence while the group either attack (dissent) or provide alternative proposals (assent). The ritualisation of not facing the audience de-personalises the process and the group setting means that the attack or alternative are not personal, but supportive. Listening in silence without eye contact, increases listening. Overall plans that emerge from the process are more resilient than consensus based techniques.
Thanks to Cognitive Edge, I had seen, first-hand, the positive power of negativity and complaining. I got to thinking, what if people were more naturally more emotionally confident to complain committedly and able to accept criticism without personalising it?
Basically, the recreational variety of complaining traps a workplace in the status quo by zapping everyone’s energy, optimism and belief that change is possible, whereas constructive and committed complaining leads to change.
If you want more information about the Ritual Dissent technique or how to build emotional competence contact one of our coaches today.