A 4-Step Process to Eliminate Complaining & Whining in a Small Business Culture, Step 2

In my last post you learned Step 1 in the 4-step Communicate to Quell Complainers Framework.

If you missed it, go here to learn Step 1.

Again the 4-Steps are (if you missed the introductory overview article go here):

  1. The E.C.C.O. Redirect Conversation
  2. The 3-C Problem Assessment
  3. The I.A.O. Situational Assessment
  4. The A.I.R. Actionable Decision Model

After you’ve applied Step 1, The E.C.C.O. Redirect Conversation, a couple of times and it doesn’t seem to be helping, it’s time to put a higher level of accountability on the complainer, whiner, gossiper (however you want to label them now).

It’s time for Step 2, The 3-C Problem Assessment.

The 3Cs are: Change, Care, Cause

  1. Identify the change that brought the “problem” into existence. If nothing changed then everything would be the same and there would be no “problem.”
  2. Agree that the issue is important enough to “care” about its present state (some people worry about problems that really are not worth caring about, wouldn’t you agree?)
  3. Decide if the cause of the change is known. If it is, it is vitally important to quickly reframe the “problem” into a decision, since once you know the cause you no longer have a problem, just a decision to make on how to deal with the cause.

It would sound like this by again starting with empathy as you did in Step 1:

“I can see that you keep bringing this issue up so it must be a real problem for you. Do you see this as a problem, because it seems to be taking a lot of your thoughts and energy?”

(regardless of how they respond you will reply with the following)

“Would you be open to some advice and feedback on how you could move beyond this?”

(don’t label it as anything as they will more than likely debate the label)

“I’ve found this 3-part assessment useful in these situations and so first we assess whether something has changed to manifest the issue? What changed in your world that brought this to light?”

(take that answer and ask)

“The first part is to acknowledge that the issue matters and it is important to you? Would you agree to that being so?”

(with a “no” answer here, you are done. Simply, empathetically and compassionately tell them to “let it go and stop wasting their own time and energy.” If they say “yes,” then go here)

“OK, step two is to identify the cause. Do you know what specifically caused it to occur?”

(If yes, then you will say) “That’s great! Did you realize this isn’t a problem at all, we just have to make a decision on what do about it. That makes it easy.”

You then jump to Step 3, which you will learn in the next article to address the ability to influence or control doing something about the cause.

If “no,” let them know you have to first identify the cause in order to fix the issue and you would be happy to help them research the cause so they can do something about it.

At this time, if they are not serious about moving beyond this issue, and they don’t know or care about finding the cause, chances are they won’t come back to you because you are in problem solving mode and that’s not what they want.

You have respectfully, empathetically, and compassionately, brought them to this point so you should be able to maintain a congenial working relationship with them.

You have also sent the message you are not going to buy-into the complaining about it anymore unless they want to do something about it.

They may move on to others. If not, and they boomerang, then it’s time to raise the stakes and move on to Step 3.

Stay tuned for the next article where you will learn where to go next with your conversation to quell the complainer.

What do you think?

Use this link to access Step 3 of this sequential coaching conversation framework so you can Communicate to Quell Complainers.

In the meantime, leave a comment below and let me know what you think of this concept to this point and any strategies other that have worked for you in these situations.

’til next time, Communicate with Power,

skip-weisman-professional speaker-small business championship coach

5 thoughts on “A 4-Step Process to Eliminate Complaining & Whining in a Small Business Culture, Step 2

  1. Gail Haynes says:

    Very practical. This can certainly be used to stop some complaining. I will apply this in groups with which I work..

  2. Skip Weisman says:

    Thanks, glad you like it. Make sure you start with Step 1, though, the ECCO technique as you want to be sure the person wants help in fixing, resolving the issue before diving into problem-solving with them as it is no empathetic to assume they do. If they don’t, then you will be wasting your time and energy. Hope that helps.

    Thanks for being inspired to leave a comment. Let me know how it works for you, and be sure to catch the last two steps in the process.

  3. Mark says:

    I appreciate your efforts and I certainly don’t want to be flippant (or sexist). But when you say “You have also sent the message you are not going to buy into the complaining about it anymore unless they want to do something about it.”, I have to think that this would not apply to women. My wife has drilled it into me over the last fifteen years that she does not want a solution, just someone to vent to.
    Men want solutions – otherwise why waste words?
    Women often just want to talk or vent. Offering a solution can sometimes create a bigger problem.
    True at home. True in the workplace.
    I don’t pretend to understand it, I just abide by it.

  4. Skip Weisman says:

    Thank you for your comment. Did you read the previous step in the process in the earlier blog article for Step #1?
    Here’s the link again, read it.

    That article explains the E.C.C.O. Technique, which asks the individual if they want help with a solution or if they just want to vent.

    The #1 most important part of this process is communicating with empathy and compassion based on what the individual wants. This empowers them and builds trust between the individuals. I would never advocate jumping to solve anyone’s problem/issue without obtaining their permission. That is an arrogant approach thinking we know what the other person wants/needs.

    Please go back to read this step in the process and then let me know what you think about the entire process (http://www.yourchampionshipcompany.com/a-4-step-process-to-eliminate-complaining-whining-in-a-small-business-culture-pt-2-of-5/ )

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