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Are you familiar with the term ‘the squeaky wheel’ applied to someone who complains? People are often ‘squeaky’ because they feel that they are not being heard and that their needs are dismissed.

If you apply oil to the wheel you can eliminate the squeak. The same is true for my interactions with people who have a reputation for being dissatisfied and critical.

The ‘oil’ in this case, is how I manage myself and how I engage with them. I’m not always successful. Particularly, if my starting point is, “that’s just the way they are” and “they are never satisfied.”

I’ve found that if I check in with my emotions and how I am holding my body I can actively shift from a defensive stance to a more open and curious disposition. This enables me to invite the person to have a conversation. I’ve noticed that are taken aback by my invitation. This changes the dynamic from a confrontation to an exchanging of perspectives. If I listen deeply to their complaint without making assumptions and having a predetermined solution they feel respected.

What is more, they often turn from being opponents to being allies and offer to help me in whatever I’m trying to achieve.


What do you do to manage yourself and those who complain?


If you would like to explore how to improve your leadership skills and the way you self-manage when faced by people who oppose your position or who complain often, I invite you to contact me on +44 (0) 7952 068133 or


Photo: Serjan Midili, Unsplash



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