No one wants to be known as an incessant complainer — especially at work. But sometimes, nothing feels more restorative than a much-needed venting session and how it seems to life the weight of the world right off your shoulders. As it turns out, all that complaining just might even give your productivity a boost, at least according to new (and totally satisfying) research.
Venting has its uses sometimes
Sometimes, we just need to let off steam by expressing ourselves to people around us. Like a loaded spring under pressure, we can sometimes feel the urge to "explode" in a fury of gripes and grouses. Letting it all out can relieve the inner tension that builds up in a difficult situation and help us feel ready to tackle other problems.
Sometimes validation feels good
Hearing someone say, "Hey, I know how you feel. I know what it means to get frustrated like how you are right not!" can feel like the verbal equivalent of a warm hug. Aside from that, it reaffirms the notion that you are not alone in your predicament. Misery loves company, so why not let your friends and colleagues in on what you’re feeling?
We open ourselves to look for an alternative solution
Sometimes, it helps to inform those around you on what you are facing and see if they can intuit a better understanding of things from our perspective, or if there's a different way to look at the same situation. Being too close to a situation makes it even more personal; it is common to end up involuntarily putting blinders on and seeing the problems we face as magnified and sometimes distorted. Remaining open to new input can prove to be quite helpful in terms of stepping outside of our own point of view, and see what others think of our predicament.
We become motivated
Complaining puts you in a better position to take action because we know that a change needs to be made pronto. Being sufficiently motivated allows you to focus on the difficult aspects of the situation and work on addressing them. There’s also that quasi-romantic feel to it: soldiering on despite having all odds stacked against you. It’s kind of like being the star in your own little movie!
Complaining gets things done
Just as "the squeaky wheel gets the oil," sometimes voicing one's complaints is a legitimate way of getting things fixed. If you voice your concerns (in a diplomatic fashion) to someone who is in a position to make changes, then complaining can be in a way much more effective in relieving stress than saying nothing and swallowing everything.
While complaining can be a means to build motivation, it can end up keeping focus on the problem rather than on potential solutions. If you spend too much time complaining, you can work yourself into a place of resigned acceptance, sheer rage, or despair and hopelessness, rather than of motivation to change. Complaining does carry some benefits and can be a way to relieve stress, albeit in small doses. However, excessive levels of it amount to nothing more than bellyaching, and THAT never solves anything.