Get Difficult Employees to Problem-Solve Instead of Complain

Getting the complainers and blamers on your team to focus on work can be a frustrating challenge, especially when they are stressed out–whether you think they have reason to be stressed or not. What do you do when they get defensive? We can ignore the complaining when someone is letting off steam or confront them, which usually doesn’t work and may produce more problems.

Complaining and blaming comes from the defensive right hemisphere of the brain. Sometimes people get stuck in right-brain defensiveness and need a little help from an outsider to help shift them into the problem-solving left logic hemisphere.
So, how do you help shift someone from complaining to problem-solving without a magic wand? It’s more simple than you think and you will find that you probably already do this with some people. When you come across someone stuck in that negative, complaining mode, ask them this, “So, what’s your proposal?” or you could say, “What ideas do you have to resolve this?” This causes them to consciously think about solutions, which occurs in the left logic hemisphere, shifting them out of right-brain negativity. Here’s an example:

Employee:  “Why do we have to change the whole route just to accommodate one lousy customer?!”

You:  “Do you have any ideas or a proposal to address this?”

The shift may happen right away or they may come back with another complaint. If they do, just ask the same question again, “So, what’s your proposal?” and keep asking it until they come up with ideas. And a special tip: asking them to write a list of ideas is even better! 

Share your anonymous stories with us on Twitter @unhookedbooks or via email on the contact page.

We want to know if you’ve tried this approach and how it worked for you. Take a look first for more specifics in Bill Eddys NESO WHATS YOUR PROPOSAL front cover CMYK (2)W book: So, What’s Your Proposal? Shifting High-Conflict People from Blaming to Problem-Solving in 30 Seconds.