However, there is a distinction between expressing our dissatisfaction and admiring our problems. Problem admiration occurs when we voice the same concerns over and over to multiple people. In a professional setting, this can be a natural occurrence. Organizations rarely get it right as often as we would hope and our institutions both public and private give us plenty to complain about. When we feel strongly about our complaint, we will recruit colleagues to adopt our perspectives and expressions of dissatisfaction until we hear these satisfying words - YOU.ARE.RIGHT! I think this is a problem too. Let me add my two cents… And voila! Problem admiration has magically begun.
Behind every complaint is a request and often that request is to be heard. I have found that people will show a strong fidelity to problem admiration until the right questions are asked. It is also important to note that we cannot collectively rely on a shared knowledge of the obvious. We have to ask basic questions and provide simple responses. For instance:
- What will it take for you to feel heard?
- Now that you’ve been heard, what do you need?
- What are you willing to do to get what you need?
In closing, sometimes all the right questions are asked and we are still not ready to move beyond our complaints. Problem admiration can be less toxic when we know we are consciously choosing it. Sometimes we just need to stay mad one more day and admire the tar out of something before we choose the act of courage and move on or let go.
What problems are you admiring?