From Whiner to Winner
Landmark Forum Leader David Cunningham appears on In and Out of Your Mind with Tina Brigley to talk about ways of powerfully and effectively dealing with complaints. Watch the video below or read the transcript.
Host Tina Brigley: Hi, welcome to In and Out of your Mind on WE-TV. In and Out of your Mind is a web series designed to get out of your head and into your life. Today’s guest is going to help us do just that. Communication expert, David Cunningham is one of the leaders at Landmark Worldwide. It’s an international training and development company that helps people to create breakthrough results in their life. So David, welcome and thank you for being here today.
David Cunningham: Thank you very much.
Host Tina Brigley: Our segment today is about how to go from whining to winning.
David Cunningham: That’s right.
Host Tina Brigley: And I have to say that I don’t know about your guys, but I tend to whine sometimes, and it does not create anything positive in my life. So how do we go from whining about things in our life to winning at the game of life?
David Cunningham: Well the very first thing is what you said, is start to notice it and be aware of it. See mostly we go through the day and complain a lot to ourselves, you know, whine a lot to ourselves. How we can catch it? We’re using words like shouldn’t, or can’t, or don’t. When we use words like that, we’re complaining to ourselves. And if we don’t notice it, it actually does suppress us. It actually like does disempower us. It makes us less happy. So the first thing to do is catch ourselves doing it. For a while, I actually kept a piece of paper in front of me and just made little tick marks every time I heard myself say a complaint to myself. And I was surprised at the end of the day that it was like, there were a couple hundred tick marks on that page?
Host Tina Brigley: Oh wow. I always think of the word should as a great thing. You know, those big fingers that you have at ballgames and stuff like that? It’s like somebody pointing the big finger, like you should do something. So what about if somebody is a chronic whiner? You know, you have those conversations with friends. You know, as soon as you pick up the phone, they’re just whining about something. It seems like the same complaints over and over again. How do you, how do you deal with that? How do you manage that?
David Cunningham: Two things, okay.
Host Tina Brigley: Okay.
David Cunningham: One is, if somebody keeps repeating a complaint, the real thing is that they haven’t found a way to make a difference with it. So, you know, when people can see, hey, I can do something about this complaint, then they stop whining about it. They actually take action. So one thing is to support people in what can they actually do to resolve that complaint. That’s one thing. The other thing though that is even more important, I think, is to hear behind what the complaint is. For what is this person committed to? What matters to them? What do they really care about? They’re complaining about something that, and behind that complaint there is something they want, something they’re committed to that they can’t quite get said. And if you can have them identify, hey, what are you committed to? What is so important to you that has you complaining about this in the first place. Then you can actually shift the conversation and have them start talking about what’s important to them, versus the complaint they have.
Host Tina Brigley: Oh, I totally get that. You know, I’m a health coach so I had an experience with a client. She said, I hate exercising. And every week it was like, I hate exercising. So what you’re saying is, the underlying commitment might be, she’s really committed to being healthy, but she doesn’t like exercising.
David Cunningham: And she doesn’t even get a chance to talk about that because when all she says is, I hate exercising, imagine if what she was saying is, I am committed to being healthy. She could say either sentence. But the one called, I’m committed to being healthy, that one leaves her empowered. The one called, I hate exercising, that one doesn’t leave her empowered. So to shift the conversation over to, what are you committed to? Well let’s talk about that.
Host Tina Brigley: Yeah. And that applies in all areas of her life, really.
David Cunningham: It does, doesn’t it? Mm-hmm.
Host Tina Brigley: So what does it mean when we repeat the same complaint over and over and over again?
David Cunningham: It means that again, you didn’t find a way to make a difference with it. Okay? So sometimes you have to find there’s complaint, if it’s a really committed and important complaint, sometimes you have to find the right person to take it to. See a lot of times we say our complaints to somebody who can’t do anything about it.
Host Tina Brigley: Okay. Yeah.
David Cunningham: So if I have a complaint about my boss and I tell you about it, what good does that do?
Host Tina Brigley: That’s right.
David Cunningham: I have to be able to go my boss or the person that can do something about it and deliver my complaint.
Host Tina Brigley: Okay. Yeah, got it. That makes sense.
David Cunningham: It does, doesn’t it? Yeah.
Host Tina Brigley: So how does creating a common goal or creating a game together eliminate the whining?
David Cunningham: Well when you have, take what you’re complaining about and think what the goal is. Like if this complaint was resolved, what would my life look like? If this complaint was resolved, what would be happening? And then create that as a game. Okay? Like hey, this is what we’re going to have happen. So and to include somebody else in that, it really is empowering to play a game with another person, not by yourself.
Host Tina Brigley: Right. Right. And I don’t know about you guys, if you could think about this in your life, what are you complaining about and how can you turn those complaints into a game? That’s kind of powerful.
David Cunningham: It is. Right? I had a husband and wife I was working with recently, and they were both complaining about — to each other about who was going to take care of their children and who was going to clean the house. So there were a lot of complaints going back and forth about who should clean the house? Who should take care of the kids? When? And all of sudden they created this game. They go, hey, this is what we’re committed to. We’re committed to having some real fun and some love expressed in our home. And they created that as a game and paired up and that became their game. And, you know, all those seemingly difficult things that would never get resolved, started getting resolved right away.
Host Tina Brigley: And that’s what we’re, that’s what we want to create, right?
David Cunningham: It is, isn’t it?
Host Tina Brigley: These relationships that are actually working. Fifty percent divorce rate, we don’t want that to happen anymore.
David Cunningham: No.
Host Tina Brigley: Right? Okay and play to win.
David Cunningham: Mm-hmm. See, you really do. See, there’s for us as human beings, we have to have the experience that we’re winning at something.
Host Tina Brigley: That’s so true.
David Cunningham: If we always have the experience we’re losing, it is really disempowering. So we have to have the experience that we’re winning, and we want to give other people the opportunity to win with us.
Host Tina Brigley: Right.
David Cunningham: So when we create a game with somebody, we want to make sure that somehow, especially by the way if it’s with our kids, we want to make sure that they can win it, and that we support them in winning it, and that — or if it’s with our husbands or wives or coworkers, we really support people in winning. It’s important that people have the experience of winning.
Host Tina Brigley: Yeah. I can see how I can use this strategy with my kids because sometimes, you know, I listen to them whining all the time, like, stop whining. But there’s a commitment there.
David Cunningham: There is.
Host Tina Brigley: What are they committed to? And how do I help them to win that game so that they can feel heard and —
David Cunningham: And, you know, a common one at home, right, with kids is cleaning up the house. Who’s picking up after themselves, et cetera, right?
Host Tina Brigley: Oh yeah, yeah.
David Cunningham: And that can become a source where mom and dad are complaining, the kids are complaining, everybody’s complaining.
Host Tina Brigley: Right.
David Cunningham: But you can actually turn that into some game, okay, that the kids can win, and you can win. And have it be fun.
Host Tina Brigley: Yeah. So you can play the game of, hey, who’s going to clean the house? I love that.
David Cunningham: Maybe.
Host Tina Brigley: Okay. That’s awesome. Now when I know a lot of the viewers, probably a lot of people in the world are struggling with their health right now, and there’s a lot of media attention on being healthy. And, you know, we all know what to do. We’re just not doing it. So how can we play a game with our health? What strategies?
David Cunningham: I think the most important part of that is to have a buddy. That one’s definitely a game you don’t want to try to play by yourself.
Host Tina Brigley: Yeah.
David Cunningham: Have somebody else play it with you and set goals together and challenge each other. That one is really important to have a buddy for.
Host Tina Brigley: I love that. Okay. Well David, thank you so much for being here. And thank you all for listening and watching. We can go from whining to winning but remember action needs to be part of awareness. Once you’re aware, you have to take action for your life. Stay tuned for next week for another episode on In and Out of your Mind on WE-TV, where we will help you to get out of your head and into your life. Thank you for watching.