Grousing about the job with co-workers is as natural as breathing. But proceed with caution.
Stick around even the most idyllic position long enough and some aspect of the gig is bound to vex you eventually. It might be the cumbersome expense reporting system. It could be the zero-tolerance policy for telecommuting. Or perhaps it’s that onerous manager who takes credit for everyone else’s ideas.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume you’ve already made your suggested fixes known to the powers that be and gotten nowhere. Naturally, you’ll want to vent about this to another rational human. But your loved ones can only lend a sympathetic ear for so long. And since no one understands your plight more keenly than those you work alongside, you’ll probably turn to a trusted co-worker.
Here’s how to safely bellyache about the job with a workplace confidant.
Employ a stopwatch. Your relationship with your grumble buddy can’t be all agitation, aggravation, gloom and doom. Consider what will become of an acquaintanceship founded on frustration if one of you lands a better position. All conversation will screech to an awkward halt and the friendship you’ve come to relish will cease to be. Better to limit mutual gripe sessions to several minutes per meeting and then move on to more positive topics.
Entertain constructive solutions. True, some workplace vexations can’t be shrugged off in a matter of minutes. But a half-hour brainstorming session of possible workarounds for the problem will leave you and your grumble buddy in better spirits than 30 minutes of unadulterated hand-wringing. Even if your best idea is adding the projects you’ve spent the past 18 months doing to your résumé.
Take it outside. Resist the urge to complain on the clock. When trying to avoid the sinkhole of on-the-job negativity, the last thing you need is to create more of it (or get caught doing so by the boss). Better to air your grievances in the corner bar or café — or at the very least, the break room or parking garage.
Avoid repetition. Even gripe partners have their limits. Serve up the same tired old chestnuts about your bullheaded VP and you’ll soon find your partner in pain cutting you loose.
Steer clear of social media. Facebook does not a good confidant make. The thinly veiled “I hate my job!” or “My boss is an idiot!” status update is nowhere near as cryptic, clever or private as you think it is. No matter how carefully curated your friends list or clamped down your privacy settings, someone who knows someone at your office — or worse, an office to which you wish to defect — will take note.