I decided to give myself a one-day challenge this week. I toyed with a couple of things. I could totally cut out sugar, caffeine, carbs or even *gasp* electronics. Ok – I have to try the electronics thing one day, probably a rainy/snowy, lazy Sunday. But until then, I’ve decided that for just one single day this week, I won’t complain.
“But Corinne”, I thought. If I don’t complain, am I not venting? Isn’t venting necessary to maintaining your cool? Does that mean I’m supposed to shove all my frustrations deep down and walk around with a fake smile on my face all day and possibly go postal as the sun sets? That didn’t sound like such a great idea.
So I decided to reposition it.
What about only ‘complaining’ in a constructive way, i.e. if you can’t change something, don’t complain about it and if you have to say something, do it with respect and with the intention to clear the air and let it go.
Case in point. I made my way to Starbucks the other day to get a latte for the road. There’s something ridiculously comforting about grabbing a latte (with 2 honeys please) and sipping that baby on the way to a meeting via the subway. Not having to wrestle with traffic, kicking back with a book and a warm beverage = bliss.
But here’s the thing. As I was quite a ways down King St, I took a sip of that latte and somehow, it tasted more like a vanilla-pumpkin-fancy-something-or-other than my latte, just the way I like it. And y’know what? This was the second time that week this happened, with the same barista, at the same shop. So I had a choice here.
I could turn around and bring that drink back and ask for another one or I could take one look at my watch and decide that I didn’t have time to go back. I could instead, pick up my phone and call my girlfriend to vent about my shitty coffee experience as I made my way to the subway, griping the whole way.
If I chose to call a friend, there’s nothing she could have done to fix the situation. She couldn’t magically make my drink into the latte that I was dying for. She was probably on her way to work at the same time and had I phoned, I would have interrupted her morning. She also probably had better things to do than listen to me complain. (How often do we feel stuck listening to someone complain about something that’s quite frankly, not worth complaining about? It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. It sucks your energy.) Plus, by complaining about things, we can easily make mountains out of molehills.
Besides, by calling my girlfriend, I didn’t even give the barista an opportunity to rectify the situation. It may have been the second time that week that she screwed up my drink but if I didn’t tell her – she’d never know.
But wait a minute, I thought. I’m pretty sure I mentioned this to her before. In fact, every time I go to that particular location, something gets messed up. So I could continue to go, continue to get annoyed that I was paying a small fortune for my unsatisfying caffeine fix or. I could simply stop going.
So here’s my challenge. No complaining for one whole day. Talking to someone honestly and calmly if there’s an issue that absolutely needs to be addressed? That’s different. I don’t want to be a doormat. If there’s an issue that truly bugs me (and I have to pick my battles carefully here) I’ll go to that person and let them know. But I’ll say my peace and get my point across in a non-threatening way. And then I’ll let it go. I can’t possibly predict or control how someone reacts to my feedback so best to get it off my chest and not hold onto it.
If you’re wondering about what I did about the latte situation, I went back. With a sincere smile on my fact, I explained how much I loved my latte the way I loved it and within a minute, I had the perfect latte in hand, in addition to a ‘freebie/come back another time’ card.
It pays to not complain.