Are You Whining or Problem-Solving?

I have a love-hate relationship with my physical therapy. I love the exercises. I like my therapist. I can see my progress.

I hate the building. Hate, hate, hate it. There are three levels of parking. Only one level has a ramp. On that level, there are about eight handicapped spaces.

That number of handicapped spaces would be reasonable if this wasn’t a building devoted—yes, devoted—to rehab. There are a number of doctor’s offices, and the biggest offices are the rehab and physical therapy offices.

I can manage to park in a regular space. I like to walk. If the spaces are large enough, I can easily remove my rollator and roll on in. That’s not the problem. The snow and ice in the parking lot are the problems.

The landlord thinks this is an office building. They remove snow as if only able-bodied people walk into the building. That means the snow and ice gather between the spaces, behind the cars, and on the ramp into the building. The snow and ice are dangerous for me.

I started a conversation in March 2014 with the senior management for the physical therapy offices. I have continued to email them. (Yes, a year later.) The good news is I don’t have to see my therapist often. The bad news is that I keep sending pictures of ice and snow in the parking lot and on the ramp.

Nobody likes a whiner. I know this.

I have tried to help solve the problem. I have used the Rule of Three in my emails. I have suggested alternatives for the parking, for snow removal, for the entrance, for the handicapped spaces. I suspect they do not want to hear any of my alternatives anymore.

I have tried problem-solving with them. I don’t think they want to problem-solve with me. (Their loss.)

I am close to whining now. I am mystified and frustrated. I don’t know what to do anymore. I do not have influence at this level to change anything.

I bet that happens to you at work, too. You see a problem. You might be able to solve it if you had the influence. And, you don’t have the influence now. What can you do?

  • You could remain frustrated. Part of me is still frustrated about the snow and ice problem because it’s dangerous for me.
  • You could find some serenity. If I knew how to do that, I would tell you. (Don’t care so much is not a helpful answer for me.)
  • You could problem-solve at a different level. I now look at the parking lot and ask for help from the office staff if I don’t think I can walk into the office safely. This is also known as “Make your problem their problem.”
  • Leave the situation. For me, this means find another location for therapy. (You can translate this to finding another job.)
  • Gain some influence. If I was willing to invest the time, I would find other allies in the greater organization and ask them for help.

I bet you can see other alternatives for you, too.

If you have a head-bump problem, where you continue to encounter the same problem and it frustrates you, consider the level at which you solve the problem.

That, adaptable problem solvers is the question this week: Are you whining or problem-solving?

4 thoughts on “Are You Whining or Problem-Solving?

  1. Jim Grey

    I whine first. When I realize I’m whining, then I realize it’s time to problem solve.

    Thanks to Influential Agile Leader, I have more useful tools in my box when that time comes.

  2. Ale Feltes

    Hello Johanna, it’s always a pleasure to read your blog. I feel so close to this particular post, I can almost see my self talking to the office staff :D.
    In my country, Paraguay; a Whining Person (WP) is often called a Plagueón. Plagueo equals Whining. As you stated, sometimes whining is justified, and some other times it’s also justified but can be avoided.
    Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know, that even though I’m labeled as a WP, I always try to help solve the problem; first of all by clearly stating why Is a problem. I used to think that this was a particular problem of third world countries, but growing up I realized that this is a human condition exacerbated by country culture. Oriental people aims to help each other and respect the rules that were made for the better of the community. We occidental ones are selfish by nature; if the problem does not affect me directly I try to avoid it, even though it might be my responsibility. If not enough people are affected to put in danger my job, I rather do nothing; even though I know perfectly that it’s wrong. I’m 40 now, I fight less battles than 20 years ago; I choose my conflicts better now, but I will never stop stating for the right thing to do when I see something that can o must be better done.

    1. johanna Post author

      HI Ale, thank you, I’m delighted you enjoy this blog. Thanks for reading.

      I like the way you said you specify the problem. I try to do so, and I’m sure I don’t always succeed. (That human thing, again :-)

      I find that I pick my battles, also. I wonder if I am actually getting more mature as I age. It’s possible.

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