REFLECTION: Nothing damages the morale of a workplace more than a collection of individuals whose response to every situation is to complain and criticize from the cozy confines of victimhood. “Isn’t it awful? How dare they? What were they thinking? Someone should do something about this!”
A recent conference participant, in a session I was delivering on encouragement and appreciation in the workplace, described this group as her BMW’s. Not the classic high priced automobile – but rather the folks who specialize in Bitching, Moaning, and Whining.
Her abbreviated description generated a considerable number of guffaws and knowing looks as other attendees nodded their heads in recognition. It seems the BMW problem is familiar to many. There might even be a few BMW’s ripping up the streets in your world.
ACTION: So what to do and how to handle them? Here is a four level response you might find useful.
1. Consider whether you might be an unintentional accomplice who encourages BMW behavior. Pay attention to how often you commiserate or provide a forum (a willing ear and shoulder) for tired old complaints.
2. Determine if there’s a legitimate concern at the root of the BMW response. If there is, engage the individual in action that works to resolve the issue.
3. Notice if BMW behavior has simply become an habitual response. If that’s the case, make the person aware of the situation. Try your hand at coaching a turn-around that steers the individual towards a more positive response.
4. Identify the business consequences and collateral damage to the team that flow from BMW negativity. Position the snide asides as the performance problems that they are. Lay out clear expectations for change and potential consequences if the BMW behavior continues.
Each of us has a right to our own thoughts – both negative and positive. We also have a choice about what we decide to express. That expression carries with it a responsibility for the impact of our words and actions. Make it clear that BMWs should be parked outside and are not welcome in your workplace.
PS – If the BMW’s in your life are spewing a black cloud over your family or community group, similar rules of the road apply.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When you feel dog tired at night, it may be because you’ve growled all day long.” – Author Unknown (But clearly someone with a good deal of insight and a great sense of humor!)
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Check out this helpful article that includes Seven Tips for Minimizing Workplace Negativity .
READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s message, ‘Getting Out There’, Pause reader DO writes: I started doing yoga about 18 months ago. One of the big benefits is the conscious breathing. When I think about physical activity you’ve described, or just being outside, I believe the deeper breath is a part of the cleansing and brightening process. I’ve noticed at recent meetings and events that when people go outside at break time the first thing they do is take a big deep breath.