I live in a fairly social neighborhood. There is a solid group of families we know and will intentionally spend time with; we have similar aged kids with a bunch of these folks, so there’s carpools, backyard bonfires, the whole deal. It makes living in the suburbs much more pleasant to have a network of friends in walking distance.

 There is, however, one woman in this group who only opens her mouth to complain. I’m not exaggerating much to say that all of her conversations, and definitely all of her Facebook postings, revolve around something that has gone wrong for her. It can be frustrating to deal with her, to be honest, because in the words of Jason Isbell “compared to people on a global scale, our lives have both been relatively easy.” 

It’s taxing to listen to constant complaints from a friend or neighbor, but it can be just as tiring for you to hear it from a client or employee - or for our teams to hear negativity from us as leaders in our businesses. It really goes both ways, and we need to be careful about voicing our frustration with any situation we are faced with, because negativity is contagious.

 The solution, I think, is gratitude. Things go wrong every day, every week, every year. And it’s easy to dwell on those setbacks, but to what end? It never benefits us to bring those around us down. Every day we wake up on the right side of the dirt, every day our families are healthy and our offices are still standing in the morning, every time a client calls us - even with a complaint - these are reasons to be grateful. 

I realized at the GIE+EXPO a few weeks back how fortunate I am that I genuinely like my clients, and that I truly enjoy seeing them in person. We have difficult clients just like you probably do, but at the end of the day, our clients are the ones keeping the lights on, and your relationship with your clients will be infinitely easier if you approach it from a place of gratitude. 

So try to be grateful for each day, even the difficult ones. Remind your team that even clients who complain are still giving you an opportunity to serve them. Be thankful. It makes life easier for everyone.