You can overcome anything if you don’t bellyache. ~Bernard M. Baruch

To complain is an intransitive verb that means to express unhappiness, describe symptoms, and protest.  The synonyms are protest, criticize, grumble, whine, carp, find fault, nag, nitpick, make a complaint, and or object.  The antonym is praise.

As an educational leader I hear complaints from some students, staff, and families, but certainly not everyone.  The scholars on the playground complain that their classmates did not get off the swings after a loud and deliberate count of fifty.  Staff will complain about the demands of the job, each other, and the expectations from the government, state, and district.  Families complain about their student’s struggles as a scholar, an action taken by a teacher, and decisions made by the principal.

Indulging in the art of complaining, especially to my close friends and husband is something I have also done.

Yesterday, in a workshop called Mastery and Leadership I heard this statement, “a complainer is a chicken with a need.”  For example, in a whiney voice say,” it is really cold in this room,” and then in your normal voice say ‘I am cold will you turn up the heat?’

Just imagine an educational environment or school site where the big and little people, who spent time there, stated what they needed or made a request rather than complaining.

In the future when I hear a complaint, a nag, a nitpick, or a protest I will say, “this sounds like a complaint rather than a request, how can I help you?”


  1. Tony said:

    I always here students and teachers complaining about different things and I do it as well, however I love how you explained it and gave a way to turn it around into a positive learning experience.

    November 14, 2010
    • Heather said:

      Nothing grates on the nerves like whining – no matter the age of the whiner!
      Sometimes we have to give our colleagues a safe place to vent and that may involve some complaining.
      I think it has to be reciprocal – who do schools leaders go to when they need to vent or unload?

      November 22, 2010

Comments are closed.