The No Complaining Rule

This is a fun, easy read that uses allegory to get an important corporate idea across. The basic concept is that a lot of energy is wasted at work, through complaining. The book goes to lengths to say that objecting to problems is important — and bringing those objections, even complaints, to the right person who can do something about it, can be good. These complaints should be paired with a couple of proposed solutions, however, so as to be constructive and helpful. It’s a very good book for those in larger organizations, and I’d recommend it for teams to read to help improve culture.

The story is about a woman, Hope, who is head of HR and is dealing with family and personal issues as well. A huge issue blows up at work, and threatens the company to its core. She is called upon to put together a plan for improving morale, and through inspiration from a nurse comes up with the No Complaining Rule. Basically — you can’t complain. It saps energy from the person as well as the listener, and breeds discontent. If there are problems, and there always are everywhere, they should be actively approached and worked through. It emphasizes the need to retain positive communications, as this can shape how people perceive the organization as well as their peers. It starts at the top, and needs to spread through peer influence. The kickoff is a No Complaining Week, where everybody is encouraged to do this and to call others out when they complain. I like the idea, though I’m curious how our team will implement it remotely. Hope ultimately presents it and it goes well, and it helps her turn around her personal life as well — she stops moping at home, her kids notice her positive turn, and her outlook brightens as well. It’s a common story and experience, but is valuable as a reminder that much of our life’s experience is based on how we choose to respond to actions outside of our control. There are many cliches to this effect, such as “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond.” I even created my own life phrase years ago: Have the courage to live positively. Maybe based on this book I’ll try to bring it back into my life.

It took about two hours to listen to via audiobook, and is maybe 175 pages in a larger font. It’s quick, to the point, and serves as a good reminder. I can see why people would come back to it every year or so, as it doesn’t require a ton of time, but can help shift mindset back to positive. Which is kind of what vacation does too, come to think of it…