During Wimbledon, I spent some time with someone who used to work in tennis and now works in a different sport. He made a statement which has been running around my mind gathering moss. This blog is my attempt to weed kill between my ears.
The essence of his statement was, the people who work in tennis are far more negative about each other than in his new sport. That, in tennis, there is a tendency to want to climb the ladder by pulling others down from above.
This thought has festered in my mind ever since as I knew, roughly, what he meant. Let’s be clear, and honest, everyone moans and we do it regularly so let’s not kid ourselves that we don’t. There are experts out there who say it can actually be healthy to vent.
Psychotherapist, Tina Gilbertson, talks about accepting and releasing negative feelings. That we can actually bond over our negative feelings. It is a very human thing to do and, when done in the right way, is cathartic.
However, I believe there are a number of factors where wallowing, or bitching about other people, fundamentally has a negative effect.
- When the complaining is about the person and not their behaviour
- When the moaning is done publicly
- When the whining is done to everyone
- When the whinging leads to no action
It is not personal
Thankfully, the vast majority of people on the planet are fundamentally good at heart. They are not malicious and they would like the best within their work environment. Unfortunately, those thoughts don’t always translate into actions which we agree with. In this situation, it is vital we separate the person from their behaviour. It is OK to constructively criticise someone’s behaviour but it is, 100% not OK, to genuinely believe this makes them a bad person.
Keep it behind closed doors
We all know them, the people that post most of their thoughts on to social media. At one point, I am sure I was one of those people. Unfortunately, it is human nature to have way more unhealthy conversations in our heads than healthy. Therefore, if we post most of the thoughts and opinions, we are spreading negativity into all of your friends lives. It is only a matter of time before their perception of us is not the reality.
“Please keep this to yourself” ….but you tell everyone….
There is no getting over it, most people take more pleasure in spreading bad news than they do great news. I remember being in a bar where there were a group of guys talking about someone who had been caught cheating on his wife. They were telling anyone who would listen. I didn’t know who they were talking about but they were happy to tell me. I asked if he had children, to which the response was yes. I couldn’t help but ask why they were so happy that a family was being broken up. That went down like a lead balloon and I was called variety of very original names for speaking up.
Later on, this same group of guys started to speak about something else but this time they were huddled in and speaking under their breaths. As I didn’t know the guys that well, and had been on the receiving end of hilarious banter earlier, I asked a friend who did know them if he would ask what they were talking about. To my amazement, the whispering was about someone they knew who had won the lottery. They were taking genuine pleasure about spreading the gossip of an affair but didn’t want join in the celebration of someone they knew experiencing great fortune.
We all know that person who will share gossip or a secret and ask you to ‘keep to yourself’. The only issue being, they tell everyone so it is a redundant request.
It is important we feel we are allowed to vent every now and again but it is also super important that we have a tiny group of people we can trust implicitly to vent with. Reflect on it now, you know who these people are. They are your tribe and nobody infiltrates your tribe!
All talk, no action
I heard someone on a podcast this week say ‘if you are not doing something about it then you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem‘.
However, it is important to remember, people vent for cathartic reasons so offering this opinion in the moment may not be the most productive move you’ve ever made. Perhaps, over time, you may find a healthy way to bring this to their attention but I wouldn’t advise it when they are in mid-wallow.
I want you to think about how many different conversations happen in the world of tennis.
- Coach with coach
- Coach with player
- Coach to parent
- Parent with parent
- Parent with child
- Coach with referee
- Parent with referee
- Player with referee
- Coach with NGB staff member
- Parent with NGB staff member
- Player with NGB staff member
- Coach about ATP/WTA/ITF/SLAMS
- Player about ATP/WTA/ITF/SLAMS
- Parent about ATP/WTA/ITF/SLAMS
I am sure I could go on….
So, what is the point in this blog?
Simple, accept that everyone vents, complains and wallows every now and again. It is human nature, we all do it and it can be healthy for our state of mind when done to the right people people and in the right way. However, please remember, at the heart of every complaint is a person. That person will have good intentions and be, fundamentally, a decent person. If we can separate the person from their actions, we may actually start to empathise and come up with solutions to act upon.
Maybe just maybe, if we could start to understand why people are complaining then we can help each other to raise the bar and make things more productive for our sport.
What do you think?
Post below your comments please….