People complain about many things – the weather, their bosses, the government, etc. Some of these complaints – what we call “committed complaints” – they want to resolve. They want to find a way to get the complaint handled, fixed, and eliminated so things will improve. For example, every time an associate of mine opened a spreadsheet on her computer, her computer would freeze and she would have to shut it off and restart it. Frustrated, she called the IT unit, complained to them about the problem, and they fixed it.
Most complaints, however, are what we call “uncommitted complaints”. The person expressing the complaint has no commitment to resolving the complaint, they have a different agenda – getting agreement and empathy for bad or wrong the thing they are complaining about is. I had a close friend who was a member of a country club who always complained about the greens committee. The basis of his complaint was that the greens committee made unnecessary changes to the golf course that he, and the other members had to pay for in addition to their normal fees. When asked to make his concerns known to committee members, to the pro, or to the Board of Directors, he refused saying “It won’t make any difference, they don’t listen.”
When someone complains about things to people who can’t do anything about the complaint, or the person with the complaint refuses to take actions that could lead to it’s resolution, then they are engaged in an uncommitted complaint. My associate with the computer problem took her complaint to someone who could resolve it, my golfing friend did not. If you have a complaint, is it a committed complaint? If not, give your colleagues a break and keep it to yourself.