No complaining allowed! ;-)

Ever seen anyone complain in the blogosphere? Yeah, bet you have. Or how about this one: Have you ever heard a business complain about something or someone within their industry? Again, I’m sure you’re answering in the affirmative. Fact is, with the advent of the information age and another new communication platform popping up every day (Excuse me Mr. Falchetto, but why have I received a notice from you to join Google + about 12 times this week??? 😉 ) on the web, the ability for folks like you and I to moan and complain all day long has never been higher.

And boy does this have its drawbacks.

Give Me Solutions, Not Complaints

I’ve got one main policy in my swimming pool company with employees:

If you have a problem, you’re not allowed to complain about it to me (or my partners) unless you have a solution as well.

Some folks may feel this is a poor approach to HR. But the fact of the matter is that people tend to complain much less when they actually have to put their brain into gear and ‘create’. Complaining is the easy part. But creation? Yeah, that’s where the greatest challenges and the greatest rewards occur.

Take for example the article 7 Bloggers That Don’t Care If You Like Them Or Not, which I published earlier this week. Up to this point, it has been one of the most successful articles I’ve ever written here on TSL, and the views/comments/etc were simply incredible.

Notwithstanding, a lady (whose name isn’t relevant to my point) tweeted it was ‘disturbing that I had only included one woman’ on my list.

Upon reading this tweet, I immediately and cordially responded to the lady, letting her know that I had invited everyone to leave the names and links of any blogger(s) in the comments section they felt deserved recognition but hadn’t received it.

Hoping to see her add some value to the conversation, I was rather disappointed she didn’t join in.

In other words, this lady wanted to be part of the problem, but not the solution.

Notwithstanding, other folks did jump in with thoughtful solutions. Leon mentioned Erika Napoletano. Griddy talked of Ashley Ambirge. And the always sharp Davina mentioned Shonali Burke, along with some other girl named Gini who I’ve never heard of. 😉

To these men and women that offered ‘solutions’, I say good for you—that’s what this thing called the blogosphere and social media should be all about.

Problem Solving in Business

But don’t think this rule doesn’t apply to small and large businesses as well. In fact, the concept of discussing problems and offering solutions regarding one’s niche has become critical in establishing a business’ brand in this age of content marketing.

For example, after being in the fiberglass pool industry for about 7 years with my business partners, we got tired of seeing many things being done the wrong way. One such thing that really upset us was the fact that many manufacturers had warranties on their pool shells that were semantic train wrecks—full of disclaimers that would even make a lawyer blush. Being fed-up with this problem, I decided to write an article entitled ‘The Most Egregious Fiberglass Pool Warranty I’ve Ever Seen’, and it has brought quite a bit of light to what is an unfortunate subject.

In another example, when my company started building fiberglass pools in the first place, we were taught to set them on top of a sand base and backfill them with sand as well. After a few years of doing this, we realized that sand had many inherent flaws, and instead we should have been using gravel as a base and backfill. When we learned this, we wrote 2 articles that literally changed the way fiberglass pools are built across the country:

Sand vs Gravel, Which is Better in a Fiberglass Pool Installation?

Top 5 Fiberglass Pool Problems and Solutions

These two articles have, in the last 2 years, been read over 50,000 times alone, and an industry that previously installed 95% of its pools on sand just 5 years ago is now installing more than 50% with gravel today—thus benefiting the end user (aka the customer) for years and years to come.

For me personally, watching this change in the pool industry has been a pleasure, but it would not have happened had we simply sat back and complained to ourselves about sand. No, instead of hearing ourselves talk we experimented with different types of stone and gravel until we had found the best solution, and then talked about what we’d learned on our blog ad nauseum.

The Reality of ‘Change’

Change doesn’t come easy. And it certainly doesn’t come from folks yapping and complaining in the stands as the game is played before them. Nope, one must jump in the fray and join in.

Does this lead to criticism at times? Yes, of course it does.

Does it also mean thick skin may be required? Yep, sure thing.

But when it’s all said and done, the person or company that was willing to take this ‘risk’, and actually be a voice of truth and change within their field, will be the one on top, looking down on all those souls who were too busy complaining to actually get anything real accomplished.


Your Turn:

What are your thoughts on complaining vs offering solutions in social media? And why do so many businesses hesitate to publish and promote ‘change’ when it’s so needed in their industry? As always, whether you’ve commented 100 times or never here on TSL, I invite you to add your thoughts, and have a great weekend everyone!!!

100 thoughts on “Are You a Part of the Social Media Problem or Solution?

  1. Jade craven

    I’ve written popular list posts on Problogger. Everytime, I’m not inclusive enough. People complained and each time, I dove into the comments and asked for ideas and how I could do it better.

    A lot of people found it easier to complain and I have no time for them. I’ve applied this to ‘no-nos’ on posts but will now examine how to do it elsewhere.

    Thanks for making me think :)

    • Hey Jade!! Yeah, I guess you’ve written some of the most well known list posts out there, so it’s cool to get your take on this, and I’m sure you got about 100x more comments/complaints than I did. 😉

      From what you said though, I really love the concept of ‘a lot of people found it easier to complain and I have no time for them.—-Personally, I think those are some pretty dang sound words to live by….and the longer someone is involved in the blogosphere, the more they better have that attitude(of just not caring about the complainers), otherwise they’re going to be feeling bad quite a bit. 😉

      Thanks so much for stopping by Jade, I’m honored, really.


  2. Love this Marcus. It’s been awhile, hope all is well with you.

    I have always believed in focusing on the solution, not the problem. Your idea about employees not complaining unless they have a solution is brilliant, and should be the rule at every organization !

    Also, I believe a lot of people want to complain because it is easier. They want to hold on to their new ideas or “solutions” for selfish reasons, when in fact, like you mentioned, when we offer up new and improved ideas and solutions, everyone benefits, especially the ones who are “helping others” and focusing on the solution.

    It comes down to choices Marcus. We have a choice every day when we wake up. Do we want to be part of positive change (solution) or be selfish and negative (complain).

    A simple choice. Like you have shown here and in ALL your posts, it is about making a difference, helping others with a Positive Attitude for Positive Change.

    Positive Attitude Solutions ! Hum ? That sounds familiar. Ha !

    The word CHANGE starts with a C, but reaL CHANGE begins with ME !

    Here’s hoping people will follow your lead, choose to have an open mind, be willing to change, stop complaining and focus on the Solution. With this, we all Win !

    Thanks for another great topic and blog. you are the best, bro !


    • Wow Al, your enthusiasm and smile just jump off the page when you talk here brother. :-) What a tremendous comment—Can’t wait till you’re able to bring your message to more and more people my friend.

      Oh, and I’d never heard ‘The word CHANGE starts with a C, but reaL CHANGE begins with ME !….but I really liked that man!

      Have a wonderful weekend sir!


  3. This is a great observation. You are right when you notice that a lot of people just like to complain, but they don’t really want to take the time to find a solution.

    As a former ‘boss’ to employees I found that many times they just didn’t understand why something was being done the way it was, and so complained about it instead of asking why. The complaining gives them an illusion of power I think.

    It is a similar principle to complaining about elected officials but then not actually researching the voting issues or even bothering to vote.

    I would like to see more businesses take this approach to complaining. Don’t bring me an issue if you haven’t thought about a solution. Thanks.

    • Hi Deb!! I’m can’t recall if I’ve seen your name here or not before, but it’s really great to see you stop by and share. You made an excellent point regarding the ‘illusion of power’. Yes, I can certainly see that, especially on the political level you spoke of.

      But I firmly believe that every company can establish a ‘solution’ based culture. And with that simple shift, moral and innovation is sure to go through the roof.

      Hope to see you again Deb and hope you have a great weekend as well!!


  4. Change is very difficult for people, whether we are talking about business, church, family or just as individuals. But you correct, it is much more important to be among those that can instigate, accept and live with the change than to be among those who are whining, hiding their head in the sand, or dragging their feet.
    Change wil come. The observation that I have made is that event though many people will give lip-service to the need for change, they don’t want to be PART of the change, and they certainly don’t want to BE changed.
    They want the change to come at everyone else’s expense rather than contributing to the solution.
    Good post, Marcus.

    • Powerful words indeed Martina. I think your observation lays it out perfectly:

      many people will give lip-service to the need for change, they don’t want to be PART of the change, and they certainly don’t want to BE changed.

      I’ve seen that pattern play out again and again Martina, just like you said, in all walks and areas of life.

      What do you say we try to change that? 😉

      Have a great weekend,


  5. Marcus, I’ve learned over the years that complaining is the favorite sport of many people. It accomplishes nothing, but is enjoyed by millions.

    Years ago I worked for a large newspaper. I was hired to generate change in a dept. that was full of dinosaurs. The computerization of advertising layout had so many panties in a bunch you could hear the squeals throughout the building.

    In my dept. everyone was still cutting and pasting the ads they submitted, which made the dinosaurs in layout very happy. The dinosaurs in layout hated me, however.

    The more I tried to help them see how much easier their lives could be the more they squawked. My boss was useless to help me, which is why he hired me instead of standing up to them in the first place.

    I put a ‘no whining’ sign over my desk (circle and slash) and they complained that I didn’t want to talk to them. Yes… TALK to them. Their only form of communication was whining and complaining.

    I survived there for 2 years and have never been happier to leave a job. You cannot help people who refuse to help themselves. But… you can put up a ‘no whining’ sign and piss off enough people to make you scream ‘Uncle’ and leave.

    Your company policy is brilliant and should be adopted by every company, no matter their business.

    • Barbara, You-Are-Awesome…this story was an exceptional example of the problem that occurs in so many companies, especially when things have been done one way for so long and someone that is actually willing to embrace the future, and technology, walks through the front doors.

      I love your style Barbara. I think if you and I worked together we’d get along quite well. 😉

      Have a great weekend and thanks for adding so much value to the conversation here!


      • Marcus I wish I’d met someone like you when I was in sales years ago. We would have been a force to reckon with!

        • Hahaha Barbara, I do believe you’re right. :-)

  6. Linda

    Great post – it’s always easier to whine than to come up with a solution.

    I believe the phrase you were looking for is ad nauseum.

    • I believe you are right Linda 😉

      Any time you catch another typo, feel free to let me know! Thanks!


  7. Great article Marcus! This is such an important topic for anyone wanting to get ahead in life. No one likes it when problems are brought to you. If you want to be successful, you have to bring solutions.

    On an unrelated note, as a lawyer, I have never read a disclaimer that would make me blush.


    • Hahaha Fred, that’s awesome man 😉

      Good to see you bud, and have a great weekend!


  8. “If you have a problem, you’re not allowed to complain about it to me (or my partners) unless you have a solution as well.”

    We have a similar policy at our company, so if that’s bad HR, so be it! :)

    I’ve been in so many work environments as an employee where negativity spread quickly – and I would know because I was one of the complainers! And once it starts, it’s very hard to reverse the tide. So I think it’s absolutely critical to keep a positive work culture.

    Now that said, I’m not going to pretend like I never complain about anything. It’s healthy to blow off steam once in awhile, but do it in the privacy of your own home, or vent to your spouse. That way you’re to get it out of your system and move on, without negatively impacting others.

    • Big props to you Carmen for admitting you have been a ‘complainer’ before. I think if any of us are being honest with ourselves, we’ve all been there too. But like you said, a culture of complainers is cancerous to any organization, and can literally rip a company, group, church, whatever apart.

      Like you said, it’s fine to complain and recognize problems as they are, but so long as it’s done in the right manner.

      Always appreciate your support Carmen, and hope you have a wonderful weekend!!


  9. Ok, SERIOUSLY I think next week I may have to go on a hiatus from my favorite blogs. Why? You folks are totally in my head. Jayme’s already ‘scooped’ me on some things and now you Marcus are so in tune with what I’ve got planned for next week, it’s just getting silly. 😉

    Too many are part of the problem, I do what I can to offer solutions or suggestions. Understand I added some blogger names not just because they were women but because they also fit the bill of your article, and that comment. For offering changes and solutions here, it’s just that.. do something. Don’t like what’s going on in your Twitter stream? Unfollow, follow new people, and/or organize and filter it as you can. Reading the same stuff? Wipe out your reader, limit yourself to 25 of your faves, then start again.

    As to your ‘bring solution with you policy’ – not everyone can come up with a solution but if you shut out those who may in fact have a handle on an issue that you don’t know… then you may never know until it’s too late. Or via a group session you miss out on someone else coming up with a better, more efficient workflow. I get you don’t want people banging down your email, voicemail and door with every little thing (word), but there is a difference in a complaint and intelligently identifying a problem – not nitpicking or whining, just an astute observation from those in the trenches. Perhaps you pick one day a month, give people a two-minute pitch to see if you want to bring it to others to work on a solution. FWIW.

    • Davina, good to know that we’re on the same page, after all, great minds do think alike, ya know? 😉 And I’ll guess you just have to say in next week’s article that you were inspired by Marcus and it really isn’t a rip-off post LOL, JK 😉

      Love your ‘Do Something About It’ mentality. I did that yesterday as a matter of fact. Nuked a ton of people I follow on Twitter. Planning on nuking more too. I’ve got about 200 or so folks I really want to stay in tune with, and the rest I’m just going to wish well.

      As for your final point, I do agree that there are times (albeit few IMO) when an employee will not be able to identify a solution to a problem. Notwithstanding, the ‘culture’ must be solution oriented. I think we often times say we can’t fix something and immediately throw our hands in the air, but if push really came to shove, we could figure it out. Same with most work place issues. I honestly feel that at least 90% of complaints can be accompanied with a thoughtful solution.

      Thanks for bringing it like you do Davina, you rock lady!!


      • I already gave you your h/t Marcus, updated the trackback link yesterday. I’m trying to nuke some folks from Twitter, certainly all the feeds and bots. Also discovered TD has a filter, so testing to see if it’ll work to zap some of what I consider to be noise (sorry Foursquare fans). Agree that way too many give up, decide it’s not their job or not worth the effort, so frustrating that lack of work ethic. Cultures do need to be open to change, to foster ideas and innovations.. and not penalize those who take risks, who at least try; and reward those who do come up with workable solutions.

  10. phil

    I would be in fear of complaining to YOU as your employee, as I would surely be the next topic of discussion in the bloggosphere hahaha…..

    • A legitimate fear pops 😉 So beware…..

  11. Happy Friday Marcus!

    Hope things have been well for you and your family.

    My thoughts on complaining vs. offering a solution extends in every area of life, not just social media. Complaining is infectious, offers no reward to anyone and is frankly a waste of time. Solutions, however, allow us to turn something of the negative into something positive.

    I think the reason we see more people complaining than people offering solutions is a result of the same reality that most people simply aren’t action-oriented. Everyone can talk a good game…but not everyone is truly willing walk it how they talk it.

    Another similarity in these people who complain instead of offer solutions is that they are the types who sit around and expect things to change by chance or by luck. That just doesn’t happen.

    And to the companies and promoting change. I believe that the hesitation happens out of ear. They don’t want to be the bad guys…they don’t want to be known for ruffling feathers…they shake at the thought of an industry backlash. And most importantly they are trapped in a “complainers mindset”. They think that if they were to stir the pot on issues that needed to be addressed that they would be seen as complainers. However, addressing something in a productive fashion may offend some – but could win over much, much more – and be of benefit to the majority.

    Quick personal example…
    Yesterday I published a post that was a change-up for my blog. I felt like the topic had to be covered and I knew that there was a potential for me to come out looking a little shallow by publishing it. And what do you know, one hour after clicking publish I got 2 unsubscribe emails from feedburner. But here’s the cool part. This morning I awoke to learn that I picked up 20 new subscribers!

    Have a great weekend Marcus!

    PS. I’m sure you’ve gotten my request for Google + too! Come on in man, it’s pretty cool!


    • Love all of what you said JK, as we tend to share a brain most of the time, but I really found your last point to be very, very poignant. I think there are times when we’re so dang worried about losing subscribers that we don’t end up gaining the ones who would be our biggest advocates. You covered ‘reality’ in your blog this week. Appearance is reality, whether folks want to accept that or not. But it appears that 20 ‘realists’ subscribed to your blog, while 2 folks, possibly living in a false, utopic dream state, said goodbye.

      BTW, I’ve never had that ‘unsubscribe notification’ button turned on for feedburner, as I don’t think I want to be affected by those that move on, nor worry about them. Do you find these notifications helpful or hurtful? Just curious.

      Be well my friend and have a great weekend.

      OH, and I’m now of G+!!


      • You know, I guess I turned on my unsubscribe notification when I first setup my feedburner account. I had forgotten all about it because I hadn’t had any email followers unsubscribe. But thanks for the idea in turning it off. That I will do. Don’t need those types of distractions.


  12. It is easier to complain than to offer suggestions to fix the problem. But I think that one of the challenges is making people feel confident in offering suggestions for change. I think that some of us have been trained to accept things as they are and not fight for change so we don’t.
    If you change the dynamic so that people feel like it is important to search for ways to improve things it has a real impact on how things are done and how they are approached.

    • GREAT point Jack. When there’s not an open door policy, this system I’ve mentioned can’t possibly exist. It’s all about creating the right culture, that’s the only way this works..

      Have a great week Jack!!


  13. Excellent post! I love that you’re saying this as a business owner, too. In my career, I have always had that philosophy: don’t just bring up a problem, bring a solution, too. I try to convey that to my kids. I think it is such an important part of being a good employee and professional. Nobody likes a whiner. Everyone likes a problem-solver.

    • You got that right Neicole 😉 And huge props to you for teaching the same thing to your kids—it’s gotta start young!

      Always appreciate your support Neicole, thank you!


  14. Hi Marcus, Another great article, not all changes come without resistance or sacrifices. Complaining about something with no resolution is the same thing it requires change to be effective. We must teach our self techniques to develop an ability to say “it’s okay to change, change is good, I will embrace change”. Sounds corny I know, you want to see if you can change go with the flow. Go home a different way than usual a direction that you always hit more lights, you think it’s a little further. You will see that resistance rise up within you. Now if I had given you measured facts that it was 1/10th of a mile out of your way but a safer route you might be able to justify it to yourself and calm down. Were creatures of habit, we resist change. Practice makes us perfect, shutting our mouth is a practiced skill.
    I just started a blog this week i’ve only posted 2 times it’s about art, artist’s in the San Francisco Bay area.

    • Hi Maria, and congrats on starting your blog. That’s an absolutely wonderful thing and if you stick with it, it will bless your life for many, many years to come.

      Speaking of change and changing our patterns, because I travel quite a bit lately I’ve been choosing the setting on my GPS of ‘least use of freeways’ versus ‘fastest time’. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable it has been for me on these trips.

      Great to see you here Maria. I hope you’ll come back again in the future.


  15. Hopefully I’m not deviating too much from the topic, but as a babe in the woods with no blog yet, I’ve noticed quite the Anti-A-Lister vibe lately. So a lot of complaining about these people. I’m new and am just curious why? I am not talking about any one blog in particular, but there is a negative drift that seems to be spreading at the moment. And I’m still not sure who qualifies as an A-Lister, really. I usually think of Brian, Leo, Darren and Chris, but I would think the complaining centers around a greedy few others who don’t follow the rules of community. Just not sure who those few are and exactly what they are doing that brings the negativity.

    I’m not sure exactly where I saw here write it, but Margie summed this up beautifully in a comment (I’ve paraphrasing here) saying bloggers should focus on those they think are worthy of attention, accentuate the positive! Less complaints, more praise.

    • Hey Craig, your observations are spot-on. There has been an anti A-list movement here and there. I’m guessing everyone has their own reasons, but I’m personally big fan of most of the A-listers, as long as their success doesn’t get to their head. I’ll never fault anyone for building a huge audience and tribe and then selling stuff to said tribe. That’s called capitalism and I’m personally a big fan of it.

      BTW Craig, I’ve really been enjoying your comments here and a few other places I’ve seen you. Even though you may not have a blog yet, you’re building your circle,and that will make a big difference later.

      Have a great weekend and thanks again for the support,


      • I’m certainly a big fan of most A-Listers as well. The archives of Problogger or Copyblogger are treasure troves, and I keep digging. Also a fan of working hard, offering a great product, experience, sharing your knowledge, etc. and making a nice profit in the process. Nothing wrong with that.

        Thanks, Marcus. The truth is I feel kind of safe here. I can drop in, make a comment and sneak out, undetected :) Love your blog and your posts always get the conversation going, in a big way!

        • That’s so very kind of you to say Craig. If you ever stop feeling that, please let me know. :-)


  16. Well said, Marcus.

    Ironically after years of listening to employees complain about their jobs and helping many to get their careers on track, my own career was transformed by my passion for supporting others in their career development. Early on in my carrer my Dad always said:
    “You can change your job or change your attitude – simply complaining will not change anything.” It applied back in the day and is still applicable to business and social media today.

    • Hi Wayne, great to meet you sir, I don’t think I’ve seen you here before, so thank so much for stopping by and I hope you’ll be back more in the future.

      And it sounds like your Dad was a smart fellow, and it looks like you took his advice to a whole, new level.

      Well done my friend, and have a great weekend,


  17. Adam

    “In real life” their seems to be many “negatrons” who seem to complain for the sake of complaining. And I could go on and on about this, however your questions seem to be geared towards SM and the online world.

    I hadn’t really thought about it much. But now that you have brought it to mind I can see where you are coming from.

    There are many blog posts about why: certain social media are bad, why customer service “sucks” at a certain company, why a bloggers opinions are wrong, why certain marketing tactics don’t work, etc. and if this is your opinion so be it. But these people need to ask themselves, “How could it be made better?” and share their answers!

    I would have a much higher tolerance for a “complaint” if it came with an offered solution.

    By the way Marcus, that’s pretty impressive work transforming the pool industry in such a significant manner and in such a short period of time, KUDOS to you!

    • Hey Adam, really appreciate the kind words. The pool industry was long over-due for someone to come in and question the status quo, especially the fiberglass pool industry, which seemed to be ran by a few guys in a dark room. 😉

      Love your point about ‘negatrons’ Adam (maybe because it sounds a little Transformer-ish 😉 ).

      Have a great weekend my friend.


  18. Now you are talking about proper management principals which many businesses do not follow. Empowerment etc.

    My in my last corp job I was on a sales trip to San Jose and a meeting at Lockheed Martin with my boss who was national sales manager over 5 divisions and my counterpart at my sister company.

    We were in the parking lot for our meeting when they get a call that Honeywell is in a panic over parts for an aroespace defense project. They needed delivery info on a key part and they couldn’t get it.

    I asked why?

    Ed my counterpart: The woman who handles Honeywell is out.

    I said “But you have other Inside Sales people can’t they look up the info?”

    Ed: No only she can. We told Honeywell on Monday they will have an answer.

    I said to my boss Larry: “Really Larry? How can you grow your sales if this is acceptable practice for supporting big clients.”

    I asked Ed “can’t you change this?”

    Ed: No. It’s the way things are done. It sucks.

    I told Larry “I would demand changes or quit”

    Larry: I have but don’t have the authority.

    true story. Sometimes organizations do really crazy stupid stuff, people accept it, and it never changes.

    • Holy-stinking-moly….Good grief Howie. What a story man. Makes you slap your forehead and say, ‘What the heck is going on here????’

      Great stuff man, thanks a ton for stopping by,


      • BTW I am a solutions guy and part time acerbic pundit….but definitely solutions

  19. I’m with Davina on this one Marcus. For the most part, I think you should have a solution when you are “complaining up.” But sometimes, the people who work for you will come to you with a complaint because they don’t have a solution and they need your advice to solve the problem.

    It’s been my experience in the corporate world that some complaining among team members is healthy, helps build stronger bonds, and unites them to come up with solutions. On a bad day, it’s a relief to be able to voice your complaints to a teammate/friend to release some of the frustration, and possibly get new insights.

    Personally, I don’t mind a little complaining if it helps get results. But when it goes over the top and creates an environment of negativity, it has to stop.

    • Hey Marianne, well said. I think the problem is that most folks and companies don’t know when to say when, and the complaining usually acts more like a detrimental wildfire than a constructive rebuild, if you know what I mean. The other thing about complaining, especially amongst teams, is that the complaining often times repeats day in and day out. Same conversation, just a different day. To me, that’s the worst.

      Again, it’s a tough call, but one that merits attention and thought, thanks so much for stopping in to share your thoughts Marianne….Have a great weekend,


  20. Hey Marcus,

    This was one of the big reasons why I left my old job. Whenever we had meetings everyone was expected to add input but no one bothered with responses.

    So when it came time for me to offer up ideas I would present them based on logical decisions and research. When people didn’t like them they wouldn’t provide an alternative so there were many times where I would get heated and call people out on not giving quality feedback “okay then, what do you suggest? This is what we’ve got but I don’t see you offering anything!”.

    A company (and individuals) really need to be ready and open to respond to others otherwise they shouldn’t really complain when new ideas are presented.

    That’s just my two cents :)

    • And a valuable 2 cents it was my friend. 😉 Sounds like you were in a pretty backwards company Murray, and I can understand you wanting to leave. It can be awfully frustrating to see problems, offer real solutions, and then nothing happen—again and again and again.

      Hope you’re well Murray, and it’s really nice hearing from you bud.


  21. G’Day Marcus,
    Poor old John Falchetto. He’s isolated in the rural Fastnesses of Southern Europe and you complain when he cries out for companionship to his blogomates through Google arithmetic. Really mate: show some compassion.

    For two and a half years in the early 1970s, I lived in a very isolated mining and chemical refining community in the far north of Australia. The only way in and out was by air. But I learnt two things that are still with me.

    The CEO had a small sign on his desk that said; “Be part of the answer not part of the problem.” I was also introduced to the wisdom and expertise of Robert Mager. Bob wrote in one of his books; “If your job isn’t fun, change your job.” And he didn’t mean join another company.

    I’d like to complain about the underlying philosophy of some blog marketing which seems to infer that “a fair days work for a fair days pay” is somehow a flawed perspective.

    But that wouldn’t be in the spirit of the post would it? Bugger!

    Make sure you have fun



    • He’s isolated in the rural Fastnesses of Southern Europe and you complain when he cries out for companionship to his blogomates through Google arithmetic. Really mate: show some compassion.—Maybe the line of the year on TSL so far Leon. You made me laugh and laugh with this one brother. :-)

      But that ain’t all the nuggets you’ve brought to light today sir. The, ‘Be a part of the answer not part of the problem’ and ‘If your job isn’t fun, change your job’ are as good as they get. Heck, guess I should have approached you before I wrote this dang article. 😉

      Have an awesome weekend my friend!


  22. After working in customer service (as a hotel front desk agent and manager), I wish customers would take this same approach. Often times, people will complain about a situation and there is no real fix at the time. For example, they complain about the room being too hot at night when they are checking out. If people came down and told me about the issue, and said they’d like to receive free breakfast or a discount on the room, it would make the whole transaction much easier. Instead, it becomes a stand-off and both parties end up being defensive and leave not happy.

    With my staff, I tried to tell them to come up with solutions either before they approached me with a problem or when they were telling me about it. It’s a great indicator of who your best staff are. Who is willing to take initiative and take a chance at being wrong with something, and who is looking for the easy way out.

    It’s a rule I always have in mind when people want me to sign a petition or they are waving signs on the sidewalk. It’s so easy to put a signature down on paper as a complaint, but no one takes the next logical step in suggesting a different solution to counter the proposed legislation.

    • Well said James, and I loved what you said about ‘It’s a great indicator of who your best staff are.’ —That’s just it, employees that actually ‘think’ about how to make their job or company better are the most valuable to have. The ones that simply want to complain, and kill morale, need to find another job, at least IMO. 😉

      Always a pleasure having you stop by James. I’m grateful sir.


    • Hey James,

      I love your comments… It is always hard to help people or make things better/right if they don’t tell you! I own and operate a small hotel in Ouray Colorado. We strive to maintain a perfect environment but occasionally things slip through.

      With my front desk staff, I am using a very simple technique these days (I have a great staff with tons of experience) and I ask them to be MOMs… (Managers of the Moment) and act like my Mom! My mom always tried to nurture and make things better, tried to please, was always nice and respectful, even when there was conflict (I had a bunch of siblings). She was accommodating yet mindful of household finances too so there were always some limitations to her generosity.

      My Managers of the Moment are empowered so that they can say “I am in charge” when a guest says they want to speak with the manager. I accept what they do. It might not have been exactly what I would have done, but, it is certainly reasonable and close to what I would have done, but, with empowerment comes less complaining and more solution finding… With this program, I have a solution oriented staff and guests get what they want without a middle man… It is a win for all of us.

      Marcus, you always come up with timeless posts and facilitate great discussions … THANKS !

      • Karen, I really like that phrase “MOM.”

        I always tried to get my staff to take charge and not worry about how I would react. It worked for some, but it was a huge learning curve for others since that’s not how things operate “normally.” Some of my bosses (I went through 4 GMs in 3 years) were control freaks, and never allowed me the freedom to do things that I felt needed to be done. I really hated that feeling of trying to instill confidence in my staff with taking charge when I didn’t have the same liberty with some of my job responsibilities.

        On a side note, I have a small hospitality consulting business helping out smaller properties with projects. I don’t have my website up since I have been busy with client work, but if you ever need help with something at your property, let me know. I am a dual-citizen so can work in the US even though I am in Canada.

        Thanks for the great follow-up comment to my own.

  23. Great article Marcus. One thing that can really set you apart from others is the ability to recognise problems, analyse them, and come up with a solution. So many people out there see a problem and stop at that!

    • Thanks Tom, I really appreciate that, and I also appreciate the private note you sent me as well. You rock brother!!


  24. Hi Marcus,

    Requiring people to have a solution before they complain is a great policy for companies but it doesn’t extend to social media. There are too many people filling the streams with complaints about how others are using the platforms. A few don’t respond (like the lady who complained about your post), but most have a solution – “do it my way!”

    Social media participation is an opt in or out choice. If you don’t like how others use the platforms, don’t follow them. The exception to this is when someone is misleading others. Calling them out with the facts that show the difference between what they say and what they do is different from simply whining.

    The problem is that we reward the people who are snarky and complain about others by following them and feeding that 800 pound gorilla ego. It’s like that train wreck you can’t help but watch silently grateful that you aren’t in it.

    Keep the good posts coming. BTW, every time I work on my pool now, I think of you. It’s a concrete in-ground that we built ourselves years ago. The building process was educational to the point that I really don’t want to ever do it again!

    • Debra, you built your own concrete pool? Really? WOW, that is crazy, and no wonder you’d never do it again!

      You’ve brought up some great points, especially where you said ‘The problem is that we reward the people who are snarky and complain about others by following them and feeding that 800 pound gorilla ego. It’s like that train wreck you can’t help but watch silently grateful that you aren’t in it. .

      I’ve seen that strategy again and again, but I also feel it’s not a long term blogging model. In other words, it starts to become the ‘boy who cried wolf’ syndrome and no one cares, as they know it’s just for effect.

      But also, regarding your initial few statement, although I do agree with what you’re saying that it’s our choice to follow them or not, I do think we are responsible for creating a culture of solutions, and teaching others in the Social Media sphere to do the same. Will it make much difference? I don’t know, but I do know that the more people get tired of reading about problems w/ no solutions, the less we’ll hear fruitless screaming from the rooftops.

      Great stuff Debra, I’m really grateful you took the time to add your thoughts here.


      • It was crazy. It turned out that there was a wet weather spring underneath it and we had to jackhammer the concrete floor so we could put a drain it. This was my first and last experience with a jackhammer. So not fun!

        I agree that we are “responsible for creating a culture of solutions and teaching others” but I chosse to do that by example rather than engaging with the ranters. (Well, at least that is my intellectual choice. Sometimes I get caught up in the drama and have a hard time escaping. ) It’s probably naive, but I keep hoping that the people who are complaining will find a new venue or simply stop.

  25. Marcus, some people like to complain. There is some nothing going around that the more you strip down other people’s work, the more knowledgeable you will appear. They may not even disagree with you, but in order to “stand out from the crowd” they have to complain / criticize. Don’t take it personally! 😉

    • Boy is that true Ana. I’m not a strong believer and ‘beating down the big boys’ strategy to make a name for myself. Sure, there are times when one might disagree with someone and it should be noted, but for the pure sake of gaining attention?? C’mon, really?

      Good to see you Ana, thanks for coming by and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


  26. Hey,

    I find complaining to be quite liberating actually… but only done with a pinch of humor. That’s when it will be taken in good sense and it will make sense actually. Like I do on my personal blog, I complain about things to make people think (which I find very hard to do for myself) and then ask them to come for solutions for it. Complain is okay, but come up with a solution if you complain or at least ask others to come up for it.

    As for being the b**** on the web, and criticizing every little action of yours, then you got to shut the cry baby..really. I wrote a contest post for We Blog Better and one blogger actually came all the way to my blog, hunted down my email address and made it sure to point out that “What were you thinking, this will help you win? where do you come up with such ideas?’… I did ask her what she thought was wrong and give her input….no response. So, when I win the contest (Yay!!) she comes back again and tells me “There are other fools like you around the globe who voted for you”… And this time, I hunted her down and gave her a piece of my mind! Still waiting for her response…. seems like I found the “solution” to the “problem”!

    So complain, please do…but stop being a pain while doing it! 😉

    Hope you have a lovely weekend!

    • Hahahaha Hajra, you had me laughing here with the story about you hunting down the cry-baby blogger. Hilarious. :-)

      I really like what you said though about complaining in the right context. Asking your audience to join in and offer solutions is a tremendous way to handle it , and I’m sure it leads to some pretty dang awesome conversation and diversity of thought as well.

      Loved this Hajra and so grateful you stopped by. :-)


  27. First of all, let me start by commenting on your policy. It’s TERRIBLE. I hate it! You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Just kidding…it’s genius!

    I do find it ridiculous that people will complain about gender, or race, or anything of that sort when they look at a list post like that. It happens all the time. But I think that only shows those people’s personal insecurities.

    I think that “equality” has gotten out of hand. That may sound bad but I say that because I think it has become synonymous with political correctness. People should have equal opportunities to excel and succeed, but equality should not be MANDATED, that has some unintended consequences.

    I’m sure that gender didn’t cross your mind even once when you were writing that post, and it is a shame that it had to become an issue for anyone. Some great PEOPLE were being recognized, and it takes away from the spirit of the whole thing.

    • Eugene, Eugene, Eugene—Brother, you nailed this one. The idea that there should be an equal number of everything on any list post is plain ridiculous, and unattainable. What would have happened if I’d included 6 females and 1 male in the post? Would she have complained about the lack of men at that point? Of course not. Personally, I don’t read blogs based on sex, race, any of that stuff….but then again, that’s why the lady didn’t come back around to comment. She likely knows that her forte is the complaining, and not the ‘solving’ part of all of this.

      Thanks for bringing it like you do Eugene.


  28. I think people have become so used to using social media to “vent,” that’s what they do. And I do too, but I try to keep it to a minimum. Sure, sometimes we just can’t help it. But as you say, at some point you’ve got to stop complaining and do something about it, or get out of the situation that is making you complain so much.

    There’s a saying, “Misery loves company.” That’s what it reminds me of.

    On another note, the last time I had to manage several people, I did try to make them come up with solutions when they were having problems. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule as such, and I wish I had been given some management training (I think that’s something many companies are notoriously lacking in), so it was my intuitive way of doing it. I had regular check-ins/meetings not just with the entire team, but one-on-one as well. I could usually tell when something was bothering someone (and they weren’t shy about telling me either!), so I’d say, “What would you like to change about that?” or “So what do we do now?” Sometimes the solution wasn’t immediately clear, but at least it got them thinking.

    Outside of the fact that constant complaining is a terrible morale-blaster, making people come up with solutions helps them develop their critical and analytical skills. I mean, that’s what we do for clients all the time, right? They have a problem or challenge, and we have to figure out how our specialty can help to fix it.

    Happy Saturday!

  29. After working in a number of businesses I’ve noticed complaining is MUCH easier than actually coming up with a solution. Encouraging employees to create solutions is a fantastic idea. An engineer from Motorola once told me the company would turn down every new idea a young engineer proposed because they new that person would spend the next 6 months studying, tweaking and perfecting the idea and propose it again…successfully.

    • Wow Steve, that’s one heck of an example. Thanks so much for sharing it man and I hope you have a great week!


  30. Hi Marcus,

    Just like Craig I noticed quite a few rants online these days about how the A-listers aren’t helping others out of the kindness of their own heart, actually some of them have the gull of actually ask for money. Imagine?

    Seriously, enough of this whining, Geoff Livingston wrote a great post a few weeks ago at Danny’s house and I couldn’t agree more. If you don’t like it, stop reading, subscribing, RTing and get one with your business.

    I think feedback is great, discussion is healthy, but just ranting without offering any perspective is a waste of time. You are right there is a lot of that online, I would say most bloggers like to rant (me included).

  31. I enjoyed reading this article Marcus.

    I can certainly see the value in your “no complain” policy. Of course employer prefers “problem solvers” than whiners 😛
    But from an employee standpoint, it does feel good to complain 😛

  32. Great discussion Marcus! A lot of the commenters have mentioned that it is easier to complain about the problem than to offer a solution, and I think that is a huge part of the issue. But there is another factor — being part of the complainers is safer. When you put forth an idea or a solution, you open yourself to criticism from the complaint crew. When you just join them in complaining, you’re not exposed to that.

    The good news — it’s the people who offer solutions that win in the long run!

    • Ahh yes Adam, great point about the ‘safety net’ that is the ‘complainers club’. I guess that’s why the most famous political and business leaders of history had their share of enemies and haters— there will always be doubters and none doers I guess 😉

      Always great to see you Adam, and thanks again for the Skype conversation the other day.


  33. Hey Marcus,

    Sadly, complaining is quite a common thing where I live. Everyone does it, even politics. Instead of trying to fix things and solve problems, you see them on TV interviews, complaining about what the previous government has done wrong. Things wouldn’t be taking ages if they were at least 10% good at solving the same problems, as they are with proving who and why created them.

    Got a bit carried away, but anyway. Really liked what you said in the end of the article. The ones that actually succeed are the problem solvers, not the complainers. Oh, and quite a good policy you have! Will have to borrow it one day. Hehe

    Have a great day man!

    • Believe it or not Daniel, where you live is no different than the states, the political system here is so disenchanting it makes me sick just watching them complain all day without achieving squat. Sad, really.

      Good to hear from you though man, I really appreciate all your support.


  34. This post reminds me of Denzel Washington in the film, “Training Day” – shortly before killing someone, he says, “If you want sh#$ done, you’ve gotta get sh#$ done yourself”

    Not planning on killing anyone are you Marcus? 😉

    You’re right, people would much rather complain than brainstorm, because of two reasons:

    – Complaining requires much less effort than brainstorming
    – Complaining is still considered cool

    If we want to find more answers, and come up with more ideas for future advancement, then this needs to be more socially accepted. The crowd won’t associate with someone who thinks differently to them, they’ll associate with someone who thinks like them. Because it’s easier to merge them together, and maintain the veil of ‘doom and gloom’.

    Good job then, that blogging was invented 😉

    • Nope, not killing anyone any time soon Stu :-)

      Great points my friend. Complaining is considered in most parts ‘cool’. It’s a shame, but that doesn’t mean cultures within families, companies, etc can’t embrace a difference way of thinking…..Kinda like you’re blog mate— always looking for the light through the clouds.

      Great to see you Stu, as always,


  35. Is having the solution enough anymore? There are always those who can point out the problem, then you get to a smaller sub-sect that can offer solutions and those people are useful, but they are not nearly as useful as those who can offer the solution and execute on it.

    Something tells me that those are the people you are talking to with this post, but I always worry that some believe that offering up the solution and suggesting that someone else should do the heavy lifting is enough.

    • Actually Michael, you’ve brought up a great point. Application is the top level of this cycle, and it’s likely something I should have addressed, so thanks a ton for bringing it up brother…Gotta get’r done!

      Be well,


  36. Some peoples calling is to either provide, make, or be a problem. After being in the dessert for a while I think Noah wished he had said, ” Let some of my people go”. Because so many of them saw the problem and did not bring any solutions. Another thought a leader/boss can tell their people is to bring 3 solutions to every problem you share. This allows the person to take ownership of the problem and brings less stress for the leader.

    • Hmmm, nice point Dan, I hadn’t thought about the 3 solution scenario but that makes it even more productive.

      Greart to see you sir, appreciate you coming by!


  37. People complain because complaining is easier than resolution. Complaining is all about being a ‘prima donna’ while resolving is almost a thankless job.
    In one of my consulting assignment, I was fed up of out of the topic questions by end users of a software, who just wanted to impress their bosses. I decided to use some tact. The person wanted to pick some file from a server and then put data in software. I congratulated him 😉 and then asked him where is the server I should take it from . He said ” YOu should find it out” and I was like “Can you please share the contact from whom I could?”. In the end he realized that he was not getting better of me.
    I often have things written down in email communication in detail about a problem. I feel that same people complain about the same problem all the time , because they lack imagination even in complaining. So much for their desire to set the world right :)
    Great post Marcus

    • Ashvini, great example my friend, and great points as well. I guess the problem with imagination is that it actually required work and cognition, much more difficult than simply going off on the day’s newest problem. 😉

      Thanks so much for stopping by Ashvini.


  38. The way that many companies handle social media conditions us to complain and offer neither praise nor solutions.

    If I tweet that my Delta flight attendant was very nice and I had a good flight as a result, I receive no validation (an @ reply of thanks, a RT, anything) from the airline, but when I tweet that the flight attendant spilled a drink on me and was then a jerk about it, I get validation (@ reply of “How can we help” and things like that) and probably even compensation. The same goes for many other companies and products.

    It’s sad, but if we’re conditioned to only whine and not to praise or otherwise positively contribute, that’s what we’ll do.

    • Pratum, I gotta tell you man, I’ve never really thought about Social Media’s effect on the culture of complaining quite like that, but it’s absolutely true. We’re being conditioned in the wrong way right now, and everyone will suffer because of it. The question is, what do we do about it?

      Good to see you brother, as always.


      • Ah, a solutions-oriented man, you are. I should have known that from your post 😛

        To be honest, I’m not sure. I complain online as much as, if not more than, most people, but I also get that validation, which encourages me to do it more. Customer service is of course important and will always deal with upset constituents, but it seems like corporate social media needs to make an effort to promote and support positive and neutral commentary as much as it attempts to address negative commentary…much like many individuals do.

        If someone tweets they think I’m a jerk because X, I might very well ignore it. I have no obligation to anything like customer service. If someone says I’m awesome though, I might very well say thanks or share their praise on. Now, I’m not saying that it’s healthy for individuals or brands to only validate positive mentions, but still, maybe focusing a little more on that and a little less on defensive branding would stop this negative conditioning.

  39. I’m with you on the personal business connection solving thing Marcus but for once have to disagree on the wider implications. I had MAJOR problems with my ISP provider last year and despite repeated efforts to get it sorted they said it wasn’t their fault but kept keeping the money for the internet line. So I voiced my grievances on Facebook and Twitter which got the ntoice of their customer service dept on there plus others having the same or similar problems with them. The end result was the UK regulator said it was their fault and ordered them to fix it and compensate me. I couldn’t solve the problem as it wasn’t mine but I sure as hell could ensure it wouldn’t get unsolved by someone indirectly. Sometimes you’ve got to flag up an issue to get others to wake up (but not if it’s your Mothers-In-Law’s business as you want to live as long as possible)!! Just don’t be a perpetual moaner.

    • Actually John, I’m going to disagree with your disagreement 😉 To put is simply:

      Problem: Your ISP stunk
      Solution: You leveraged social media to get action

      If you had just complained to friends and family, I would say you complained in vain. But in this case, you had a solution in mind. See what I mean brother? 😉

      Appreciate you to death Mr. Sherry :-)


  40. A lot of people will be resistant to change. But like as you have said Marcus, people who wants change would be the most likely to be acknowledged and will end up to the top. The people who like to complain are those who are used to relying on others to solve the problem. People who complain are very dependent and lazy to find solutions for themselves. I get your point about ignoring these people so that they would learn to find the answers by themselves.

  41. It’s human nature to complain Marcus … you have obviously been spared from the Mommy Blogasphere … as consumers we are 10 times more likely to complain about something than offer a compliment. In an age of customer service oriented businesses we are even less likely to try and find a solution for ourselves. We complain because we WANT a solution. Is that right? Umm no, maybe yes, perhaps. I guess it depends. Sometimes we complain just because we need to vent, sometimes it’s because we are mad, sometimes it’s because we’re lost and the list goes on.

    Luckily not all problems can be solved internally by the individual and let’s just thank our lucky stars for that because if that was the case A LOT of people near and dear to me would be out of business! BUT! I do agree the mindset to solve the problem is imperative in order to be able to find a solution, or someone who can help, to make that problem go away!

    I do hear you that seeing constant whinging and whining for the sake of it does get old. Some people are just like that!

    • How’s my favorite Mrs. Falchetto doing today?? 😉 I imagine you’ve heard your fair share of complaining, as it does pick up in certain niches out there 😉 But yes, not all problems can be solved internally, but sometimes the ‘solution’ in that case is ‘I need to call an expat life coach!!’

      Great to hear from you Ameena, thanks for being awesome.


  42. Marcus,

    I think that complaining is a complete waste of time. In my own life I have started a practice that if I complain about something I have to immediately take action against it. Example if I say I hate cold pop, I get out of my seat and go put all the rest of the can pops in the refridgerator. This has stopped me from personally complaining as much in my own life. People has a misrepresentation of what complaining is. Many people see it as a way to voice their opinion but all they are really doing is bringing negativity to any situation and stopping others from moving forward. I like your business idea. If you have a complaint bring me a solution. I don’t care about anything else.

    • You’re definitely on to something with that Frank, and I’m sure it has made a huge difference for you my friend. Like you said, voicing opinion that only bring a negative vibe has no value, and the persons that can be solution oriented will always end up on top.

      Good to see you my friend, stay well.


  43. Brena Fint

    Actually, the baby is very cute in the picture although he’s crying…lol…How nice…Thanks for the post…

  44. Steve Bell

    I understand the principle of getting the complainer involved with the solution. But I’m not sure I DON’T want to hear of a concern because someone doesn’t feel they have a solution. Perhaps they don’t have the perspective, the view to see how things connect, or do not know what options might be viable. Thoughts?

    • If you’re ever in management Steve, I think you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about here. Bottom line is this– If there is a problem, there is usually always a solution. And if employees know they need to come up with one, they all turn into ‘managers and problem solvers’ versus just being straight complainers. Seriously, try it out man, you’ll see the difference it makes. :-)

      • Steve Bell

        Well, admittedly I supervise only a handful of people but I think I’d like to practice with this. I like the ” they all turn into ‘managers and problem solvers” focus. We do have complainers! Thanks.

        • Go for it Steve, just make sure you let me know how it went! 😉

  45. I’m definitely becoming a fan of your stuff, and agree wholeheartedly with your views about complainers. But isn’t this a symptom of the current culture – focused on finding fault & spotting flaws? We have a culture of criticism instead of appreciation. It’s even in the name – theatre critic, restaurant critic etc etc. Too many people are obsessed with their own ‘ego’, they need to be ‘in the right’ or better than the next person, they thrive on drama. If I bring a big problem to you, won’t I be the hero if I solve it!
    There is nothing wrong with voicing dissatisfaction with something as a means to resolving the problem. Unfortunately too often it is the act of complaining that is the focus. The less we allow habitual complainers to have a voice, the more we will create a ‘can do’ culture instead of a self-justifying ‘I can’t because’ approach.

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