Without An Idea, You're Just Complaining

Without An Idea, You’re Just Complaining

If you go to people to share a problem without sharing an idea as to how the problem might be solved, you’re just complaining. Even if you don’t mean to be negative, you are. And the more you talk about the problem without also talking about what you intend to do about it, the more negative you become. It doesn’t matter if that’s not your intention; it’s a fact. You’re carrying the infection. And you’re spreading the infection to others.

It’s easy enough not be negative.

Follow up your sharing of a problem or challenge with three or four ideas of how things might be made better. That easily changes what’s officially called a “bitch session” into something more useful, like a brainstorming session. Or a planning meeting. Or a massive improvement project. Or a revolution. If you’re really good at it it might turn into something even better than that, like consensusbuilding around changing things for the better.

Once you have ideas, there’s no longer any reason to sit around complaining. Now you can start taking action. You can sell your ideas to your peers and build consensus. You can sell your ideas to your management or leadership group. You can outline the initiative, develop a way to prove your concept, and you can develop an unsophisticated return on investment (even if that investment is only time).

Without an idea, you’re just complaining. Without an idea, there’s no action. And there’s no improvement. Instead, you simply become another carrier of the only cancer that spreads by contact: negativity.

Don’t complain. Generate ideas. Plan. Scheme. Take action.

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  • http://twitter.com/MZazeela Marc Zazeela

    Cheers Anthony.

    I have little interest in listening to someone complain unless they have a corresponding idea about how to fix the problem.

    Let’s leave the solution-less complaining to politicians and let creative and motivated people rule the world!


  • Joe D.

    Anthony, I find almost all of your insights and articles useful. This one, as a practical position, I find to be slightly off the mark. Clearly in sales, offering an idea is the right thing to do. However, it’s not unusual for people to know something is wrong, but not know how to fix it – or even what kind of ideas to offer to fix it. Imagine that your car is making a noise – you don’t know what the problem could be, so you take it to the mechanic for diagnosis. Imagine that you’re “not feeling well” – you don’t know what’s wrong or how to fix it so you go to the doctor for help. It’s okay to complain to someone who has more knowledge than you. And therefore I would say that it’s okay for a junior level person to “complain” to a more experienced person as long as the purpose is to gain an idea on how to fix the problem. Maybe your thesis should be, “without an action plan to change the situation, you’re just complaining.”

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Joe.

      I believe that your company (and clients) hired you for your initiative and resourcefulness. Always going to someone senior for an answer makes you a dependent (I know you didn’t say “always”). Senior people always providing the answer creates dependents.

      What do you lose by coming up with your own ideas before you start complaining to management? If your stuck, they’ll help you. If they’re good leaders, they’ll make you struggle for it first.

      I think complaining and asking for help are different. What do you think?


  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    One of the best ideas I’ve found in the last couple years has been from reading James Altucher’s ‘How to be the Luckiest Person Alive’. He talks about practicing coming up with ideas. To sit and think of, for instance, 100 things an 18 year old can do instead of going to college. I’ve been (hit and miss) implementing a new habit: Write 10 ideas for someone every day. Could be a client, a colleague, a friend, etc. Practicing this helps develop an eye and ear and mind for solutions.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      I love that idea, Brett!

  • http://www.NateAnglin.com/ Nate Anglin

    I love this and it’s so true. Oddly enough in my sales meeting on Friday I talked about exactly this. When someone brings me a problem then what they’re suggesting I do is solve the problem for them. When a problem is first dissected and 5 solutions are presented to me then we can sit down and collaborate on the best solution. So we go from the “bitch session” to a collaborative team effort. We can all see which one bears the greatest benefit.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      No doubt. Putting a group of smart and resourceful people together is a great strategy for finding a path around roadblocks, real or imagined.

  • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino