A particularly difficult restaurant customer was complaining non-stop about the temperature. First, he asked the waiter to turn up the air-conditioning because it was too hot. Then, he asked the waiter to turn down the air-conditioning because it was too cold.
This happened every 20 minutes. Every time, the customer would complain and the waiter would obligingly do what the customer asked.
A second customer observing the whole thing asked the waiter why he didn’t just ask the first customer to leave.
“Oh, I really don’t mind,” said the waiter, “We don’t even have an air-conditioner”.
Soooooooo the Singapore Budget 2015 is out. Approximately 21,102 bloggers have already commented and analysed it (to death), so I won’t do the same.
Instead, I headed over to the most entertaining part of all “gahmen” initiatives: The comments section. There, I discovered gems like these:
Bwahahahaha I love watching Singaporeans complain. It’s like watching Mata-Mata on Channel 5. It’s so painful to watch, but you just can’t tear your eyes away.
Waa… I can’t get more cash! Waa.. petrol prices are increasing! Waa.. the rich are getting richer!
Whine, whine, whine. We Singaporeans complain. A LOT.
I’m no exception – when things got really busy for me a couple of months ago, I was complaining non-stop to my girlfriend, until she told me to stop being such a baby.
Complaining is our national sport: We complain when prices go up, we complain when (housing) prices go down, and as we saw from the comments surrounding Budget 2015, we complain even when we get FREE MONEY. There’s no pleasing us now, is there?
The Dark Side of Complaining
While complaining about policies might be a fun lunch topic, there’s a dark side to all our complaining.
- It makes you, and the people around you, dumber.
- It makes you more unattractive
- It doesn’t change anything – in fact it probably makes it worse
- And it just bums people out, yo.
If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re not a whiny, die-hard complainer. Because all cheerfuleggers are smart, proactive, and really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. True story.
But if you’ve got a friend who’s bumming you out because he/she keeps complaining about the latest Budget initiatives, try a few of these suggestions to lighten the mood at lunch a little.
You’ll appear awesome and intelligent, while making your friend look even more whiny than he/she already is.
*Side note: This isn’t a pro-PAP / pro-establishment / pro-fessional saka post. While I do like most of the latest slew of initiatives, no government and no policy is perfect. We can’t change what life gives us, but we CAN change how we respond to it, which makes all the difference.
Anti-Complaint #1: Make It Funny
If you really buay tahan have to criticize something, use humour. You’ll get your frustration out of your system, yet the people around you will appreciate having a good laugh.
For example, I spent about 10 minutes laughing like a jackass at McDonald’s on Wednesday morning over these hilarious tweets from Mr Brown:
— mrbrown (@mrbrown) February 23, 2015
— mrbrown (@mrbrown) February 24, 2015
Anti-Complaint #2: Look At The Big Picture
I read an article that one of the best ways to appear smart in a meeting is to say the 7 magical words: “Can we take a step back here?”
Boom. All the minions who were previously arguing over the inane details of the meeting will stop and marvel and how insightful and visionary you are. (haha)
In the same way, taking a step back and looking at the big picture for any policy initiative always makes you look smarter.
Let’s take the increase in CPF ceiling from $5,000 to $6,000. A small-minded person would see that $200 MORE per month is going into his CPF and say, “Wah lau eh! CPF take more of my money again!!”
But a big picture person would realize the benefits:
- Employers have to contribute $170 more into your CPF = Free money!
- Someone aged 45 years old today earning $6K or more would save an additional $60,000 in his CPF by the time he reaches 65. (And that’s only in the Special, Medisave and Retirement accounts – not including the Ordinary Account)
A “loss” of $200 per month in exchange for an additional $60,000? Not a bad deal. Look at the big picture.
Anti-Complaint #3: Turn It Into An Opportunity
And of course, there’s the best way to deal with complaints – reframe it into an opportunity.
For example, let’s say your friend is whining that the gahmen should be giving you ca$hhh instead of wasting it on some lame SkillShare initiative.
You could point out that if you find the right course, it can improve your skills and make you more employable FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. If you used the course to get even just a $200 bump in your salary, how many GST vouchers is that equivalent to?
Or if your friend is complaining that the rich are only getting a 2% increase in tax, smile to yourself because that’s helping to fund your 50% tax rebate next year. You can use that couple of hundred dollars to start investing – and turn it into tens of thousands of dollars in the future.
Hardcore critics will only see the pessimistic side of things. It’s up to you to lighten the mood, take a step back, and reframe it as an opportunity for yourself.
Do this, and you’ll be able to leapfrog the whiners who’re getting nowhere… and still complaining about it.