To whine or wine?

By Maggie Mowery / Guest Editorial

Have you ever caught yourself whining a bit too much? Recently, I stumbled upon an episode of “Whine About It.” It’s a video series in which BuzzFeed writer Matt Bellassai drinks a bottle of red wine with his coworkers cheering him on, and commences to whine about a “buncha dumb stuff”(his words).

It was interesting to watch this young man speak candidly, but in real life, people don’t appreciate this kind of whining. In the September 2015 issue of Experience Life magazine, I ran across an article called “Office Talk: How to Avoid Communication Snafus at Work,” which is about whining, and takes some challenges directly from the book “Real Happiness at Work” by Sharon Salzberg. I have witnessed these challenges in person, and have even given clients some of their suggested fixes:

Challenge: Being honest at work – with yourself and others. When experiencing an emotional issue at work, refrain from reacting for a day or two. Our immediate reaction to interpersonal conflict is usually to blame the other person. Try taking some time to focus on your own feelings and to be honest with yourself. Often, you’ll find you can understand where the other person was coming from, which can help you resolve the conflict more amicably. We only have control over our own thoughts and attitudes. As Michael Jackson says, start with the “man (or woman) in the mirror.”

Challenge: Navigating office gossip. When you hear that juicy piece of news, see if you can sit quietly without judgment while being aware of the temptation to join in or desire to share with someone else. We can’t always stop others from gossiping, but we can examine our response to it. One of Jack Canfield’s “Success Principles” is to take 100 percent responsibility for your life. Being able to rise above petty gossip is a great way to start.

Challenge: An aggressive workplace culture. Diffuse negativity by affirming your colleagues when appropriate. Be happy when things go well and supportive when they don’t. There is an organizational change training called “appreciative inquiry,” which teaches employees to shift from asking, “what’s not working?” to asking, “what is working?” Who doesn’t like to share good positive stories and events?

Other challenges outlined in this article include unconscious body language, email communications and constant interruptions. The author suggests that the following three questions can help us develop skillful communication whether in person, on the phone or in a digital format: Is it true? Is it useful? Is it kind?

No one is perfect – it’s all part of the journey of organizational and interpersonal change, which is a lifelong learning process. This month, let’s all practice whining a little less, being kind a little more and supporting each other as we all learn and grow together.

By the way, if you’re looking for a different kind of wine book that’s simple and helpful, try “Zita’s Guide to Wine and Life” by Zita Keeley and Carolyn Kourofsky.

“People who love wine love to share that interest with others, and to keep learning from others,” Zita writes. “I can honestly say that the learning never stops.”

Maggie Mowery is with Maggie Mowery Consulting,