Why Complaining Doesn’t Get You Anywhere in Events
“Why complain? It’s not going to do any good.” While that’s true of most professions, it’s triply true of event planning. Plus, it could mean bad things for your career. Here’s how and why you want to stop complaining.
Event professionals have seen it all. People celebrating the highs of life and those who lash out when feeling the lows. Seeing celebrities for who they are and managing budgets for the uber wealthy is all in a day’s work. Eventprofs know that part of making the coordination seem effortless is all in the attitude. That’s why it’s important to keep a good one. Here’s why doing anything else puts your job in peril:
The Domino Effect
A good attitude is contagious and as an event professional leading a team of vendors and hosting countless attendees, you need to keep your mental game together. If you let stress show, your team will catch on quickly that you’re dissatisfied. They react accordingly, and get stressed too. And now your audience is wondering what’s going on because they can feel an unease among your employees. Now everyone is sure it’s all going south, a great event in ruins.
That’s why some companies like Buffer institute a “no complaining” policy. They challenge employees to choose positivity by giving genuine appreciation, avoiding complaints and criticism of team members, and approaching things in a positive way.
By now you’ve probably heard the story of the two wolves. Each of us has two wolves inside us – one good and one bad. They snarl at each other and challenge us. Which wolf will win dominance? The one we feed.
If you look for the good in the situation, you’ll often find it. If you focus on everything that is going wrong, your view of the event will be very different.
Another problem with complaining is that it becomes like brushing your teeth. How do you remember to brush your teeth every morning besides the nasty taste in your mouth begging your brain to do so? You do it because you established the pattern a long time ago. The same can be true about complaining. If you establish a pattern of always complaining, that’s what will come out of your mouth first and that’s what you’ll notice.
You may think this is harmless enough, that you possess a snarky wit, but it becomes uncomfortable and draining to be around. You’ve likely seen it in others when you compliment them on something they’re wearing. Oh, this old thing? Now the complainer has done two things – given up the joy she could’ve had because you paid her a nice compliment and made you feel silly because what you liked is an “old thing.”
The Ripple Effect
Just like the domino effect where everyone feels your bad mood and hears your complaints and it sets them on edge too, the ripple effect does it on a smaller scale because they don’t realize the source. The ripple effect may start with you criticizing the florist for her design. Instead of seeing your bad mood and attributing it just to you, the florist takes your criticism to heart and it ruins his day. Then he runs into his assistant and blames her for giving him the wrong information and it carries down the line, taking several people with it.
With one quick turn of phrase, you’ve made it difficult to get the best out of your team. You haven’t inspired them, you’ve eroded their confidence, and that will affect your event and possibly future events. When people are criticized unfairly or in a manner that’s over the top, they often feel the residual of that at future events as well.
Options Outside of Complaining
Be deliberate in your criticism. This does not mean you allow underperforming team members to continue their lackadaisical approach but you deal with their actions, or inactions as the case may be, swiftly and without emotion. Tell them what’s expected and give them direction if they need it. Then give them the room to do it or not. If they don’t, you won’t work with them again.
Start controlling responses. You may not have any control over the error or stress but you are able to control your response to it and by doing so, you will make yourself feel more empowered to handle it and less like a helpless victim.
Understand mistakes happen. As Dale Carnegie said, ““Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” Condemning makes you out of control. Being out of control never helped any event planner unless they were on a reality show looking for ratings. Instead, understand that mistakes happen and stop taking them so personally. You’ll feel better.
Don’t compound. When something bad happens some people have a tendency to compound it. “I knew this was going to be a bad day. It all started when it rained and I didn’t have an umbrella and now this. Wonder what else is going to go wrong today?” A compounding attitude focused on the negative is extremely dangerous for an event planner. It is a very fragile house of cards you are maintaining and if you are standing next to it breathing heavily, you shouldn’t be surprised when it topples.
Instead, look at the rain and umbrella situation as a one off or better yet, remind yourself to always check the weather. Learn from the bad situation and plan on what you can do to avoid it in the future. Don’t let the negativity follow you like a dark cloud (okay, that was a little heavy handed but you get the idea).
While complaining may feel good to you at the time because it allows you to let off steam, it negatively impacts your whole event and potentially future events. As an event planner, you are leading a group and setting the emotional tone. If you allow yourself to get swept up in the emotion of the coordination, you are no longer leading but toiling and it will be felt throughout the ranks. You will not get the best from your event team and your attendees will feel the difference.
While you’re creating an experience at your event, do your best to have an emotional design as well. After all, you can’t create a wow moment when you’re busy complaining about a spot on the waitstaff’s lapel.
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