THE ART OF
We all have things
we want to complain about sometime in some sector of our lives. Complaining takes many forms and it’s worth
reflecting on the effectiveness of these various complaining techniques.
“Whinging” is a
particular favourite here in Australia, although we prefer to think of others are being whingers, such as the
well rehearsed “whinging Pom.” Mind you there won’t be too many whinging Poms after the most recent Ashes
victory in Durham this week!
We Australians are
every bit as adept at a good whinge as anyone else, and even when we are referring to others as whingers, it’s
usually we who are doing the whinging!
Whinging is a form
of complaining which never really accomplishes anything other than the self-satisfaction of the whinger. In
fact, whinging is all about the whinger, about a perceived injustice, about not getting one’s own way, about a
personal offence, real or imagined, about a system that they see as inflexible in their regard.
Whinging is often
an attention-getting mechanism rather than being an agent for change. All that changes often enough, is the
temperature in the room, the blood pressure of the whinger and the feeling of powerlessness and ultimate
exhaustion on the part of the whingees! The whingees are often trapped when confronted with a long diatribe
which is mostly about the whinger’s lack of success—in marriage, in work, in romance, in sport, in
For the whinger
the fault is always on the head of another. The whinger will never or rarely speak to the person who is the
target of her or his whinging, for then they might get a reply that discredits the whole basis of their whinging
and they’d have nothing more to talk about. Their whinging is as much about wounded ego than actual damage done
and so they have very little real data on which to base their case.
Whinging is one of
our favourite forms of complaining so that nothing gets done!!
Another form of
complaining is the much more productive process of critique.
A good healthy
critique is focused not on the person making the critique, (although he or she may well be affected by the
issue), but rather is focussed on the issue at hand.
The presenter of a
good critique has reflected critically on the causes of a situation that calls for some resolution. This person
has taken the time and trouble to investigate the circumstances around the issue and then comes forward with a
clear statement of where fault lies.
If the person
making the critique is really on the job, he or she will then provide an alternative, a possible resolution, and
will present the case relatively free of the intrusion by the person’s ego.
receiving the critique will be presented with a certain argument with which to engage and a process of
negotiated change is given a much better chance of happening.
As we journey
through the election campaign, listen carefully for the whingers on the campaign trail and those who produce
solid critiques of government or opposition policy. At times it’s hard to hear beyond the
every parish has its supply of people who critique and people who whinge.
It’s probably true
that at times we all whinge and at times we are capable of good critique.
Jesus speaks about
dealing with the faults in ourselves before we have a crack at each other. Listening to him could probably
improve our percentage of good positive critique and lessen our propensity to
Let’s have a good
week as we reflect on our own track record in this regard.