Complaining: an innocent way to vent?
Complaining – it’s an act that seems harmless enough. It’s what you do when your husband gets you a Shake Weight instead of the Tiffany’s bracelet you’ve been pining over or what you and your coworkers do when the boss makes everyone stay an hour later. Complaining seems like an innocent way to vent, but in a book titled Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life, author Trevor Blake provides research showing complaining is actually damaging to the brain.
In the book, Blake cites research from Stanford studies showing that a person who is exposed to 30 minutes of complaining every day, physically damages their brain. It damages the neurons in the part of the brain used for problem solving and cognitive functioning by peeling back the neurons in those areas. If that doesn’t sound damaging enough, complaining also zaps energy from the person on the listening end. That explains why everyone seems so deflated after an hour long employee meeting spent complaining rather than coming up with actionable solutions.
The brain is a muscle
In addition to brain damage, the more you’re around a negative person, the more likely you are to mimic their behavior. “The latest neuro-scientific data shows that the brain works more like a muscle than we’ve previously thought so the more you repeat a behavior the more you become that behavior,” says Blake. “So if you surround yourself with a bunch of complainers the more likely you are to become a complainer yourself.”
Going on a rant every now and then is a good way to blow off steam, but do it all the time and you significantly decrease your ability to problem solve and engage in strategic thinking in the workplace. The business world is one where the best have to stay one step ahead of the pack. So allow yourself a few minutes of sulking and then begin coming up with ways to make the best of the situation, leaving your brain in fully functioning condition.