Complainers...Who They Really Are

How do you see complainers?  As antagonists?  As trouble-makers?  As jerks?  As naysayers?   As negative people?  As the opposition?

How you view complainers dictates how you respond to them.  If you take it personal when they complain, you'll think they are saying, "you're not a good leader" or "your ideas stink" or "you're wrong."

But if you see them as someone who can help you improve the ministry, you will respond to them differently.  Here's how to see complainers in a new light.

Understand that opposition is part of change and growth.  Push past your personal reactions to those who complain and realize that opposition will help you assess the quality of ideas, see different approaches and help you make high-quality decisions.

Be proactive in seeking out complainers.  Each time you have a new change or major initiative coming, ask people to tell you why you shouldn't do it.  By doing this, you will begin to see opposition as a regular and important part of the decision-making process. 

Ask those who are normally "yes" people to think of and share an opposing view.  One characteristic of highly effective teams is their freedom to explore all sides and views of an idea or initiative.  Successful teams have conflict and disagreement.  Help people on your team build the skill and willingness to offer opposing views.

Train yourself to not instantly resist the complainer.  Even if you know your position is right, stop and listen, consider and evaluate the opposing idea.

See the complainer as a gift.  Normally the complainer doesn't have bad intentions.  They're usually trying to say something that they believe is for the good of the team.  Shift your anger to appreciation for the complainer.  If no one brings opposing views, then the team can become unbalanced.  They are helping the team get better.

Provide feedback for the complainer.  If the complainer is bringing the opposition with an attitude or spirit that is damaging, it is vital to help him or her learn to offer opposing views with skill and tact.  Encourage him or her to also share comments when they are in agreement, so they are seen as balanced.

Seeing complainers in this new light will make you a better leader and decision maker.