Verbal Viruses / by Jim Grant


Picture: Deaf Sign for Help


Anyone dealing with complaints and complainers knows the energy and time they rob from us and organizations where they work. Rather than complain about complainers here’s a practice you can use to move complaining into action and undercover the request behind the actual complaint.

An employee is behind in an important training project and offers their boss provisional reasons for reasons of what they see as their complaints:

“I’ve got too much to do and no time to do it”. “I need your help”.

“I need more time to complete this project”. “What was promised” or“What are your priorities” 

This is impossible, it can’t be done”. “I need more information or collaboration”.

The following is a hybrid coaching practice adapted from my early days of coaching middle managers. It helps focus quickly on the complaint story by understanding the hidden request.

There are keys things to be mindful of. Requests can be accepted, denied or negotiated.

Try this: Write down two complaints you have. Now write down two complaints you have observed from others. In each case, see if you can uncover the request that needs to be made?

Not Asking – Sounds too simple doesn’t it? People complain to themselves or others but don’t actually come out and ask. Reasons may be shyness about asking for help, worry about the imposition of asking, or a fear the request will be refused.

Unexpressed Expectations – Our private conversations very often focus on what others ‘should’ or ‘should not’ do. We find ourselves stuck and closed to making a request at all. Later, if that person doesn’t do what we expect, we’re disappointed, resentful and frustrated. Silly but still true…

Lack of Clarity – How can someone know what we want if we don’t ask? Success means being concise and specific about our request. It’s not insulting to make a clearly defined request that sets the stage for mutual satisfaction. How to do it? Begin with the statement, “I have a request?”

Moods of Requesting – Do you know anyone who makes a request feel like a demand? Or someone asking as though begging for a favour? Failing to acknowledge the request principles does not respect the moods of the person you are asking something from. Tentativeness is asking not to be taken seriously.

Activating The Observing Self – For the next two weeks observe and note your complaints.

Reflect on: 1. What is the hidden request? 2. What is your non-conscious belief about making the request?

Daily Practice – Try and understand your current way of thinking about requests with yourself and others. See if you can discover what happens around you as you go through your day?


Jim Grant is a Leadership and Executive Coach living in Helsinki, Finland.

Are you looking for someone who can help you design a daily practice for you and with you?

Give him a call at +358 40 178 1030 or e-mail:

Are you ready? – The New Work Force / by Jim Grant

They don’t want to work for you, they want to work with you. 



I was having lunch recently with a Helsinki business executive. Our conversation began with him asking how other companies deal with employee motivation and engagement. Our chat drifted to understanding difficult employees and the amount of energy and time this activity consumes. He shared how his company was being particularly influenced by a group with ways of thinking and behaving he found unconventional.

“In the last ten tears, I’m noticing how a very different mindset is challenging my managers and me.”

I asked him about the age group he was referring to and he identified the 20 to mid/late 30’s group. Probing a little deeper asking him about the general demographic trends of his company.

“It’s a bit of everything I guess, all ages.” “But it’s the younger ones I find most challenging.”  “It used to be people were happy to have a job, worked hard, didn’t complain much and were happy to work overtime when it was needed or asked of them.”

“I think I need your help… Now it’s frankly a mess! It’s like looking at paint splatters on a wall,” “Everyone want’s something different… especially the young ones.”

Countries, religion, business, ethnic races, governments, and even generations have personalities just like people. Integral and Spiral Dynamics terms frequently reference demographics highlighting their consciousness level colour and ’SG’ (specific gravity). We know people think differently because of their culture and backgrounds, beliefs and values. Anyone traveling extensively or has lived in an apartment building can affirm we seldom know our neighbours, much less belong to the same psychological community. Cultures are often grounded in ‘idealism’ helping explain the how and why of groups? Cultures provide insight as to how we need to cooperate, collaborate and can become conflicted over differences in values and the deeper strata of systems that form them.

Millennials grew up in an electronics-filled world thriving on being ‘plugged in’ and belonging to ‘their’ social network. This generation is targeted by advertisers and is receiving the glut of the marketing focus. The most ethnically varied, they are blossom on being accepting and highly adaptable to people’s differences. Raised with a mantra of  “live your dreams,” they were raised as to feel ‘special’ with to their confidence meter well off to the liberal left. These positive traits one might argue, tend towards an ‘entitlement,’ paint splattering the corporate office walls with the red and amber of entitlement. This meme holds an optimistic viewpoint about the future.

If you have them in your workplace – be curious, engage them and meet them where they are. The potentiality and genius millennials carry in mind is inspiring. I heard one young millennial recently declare after being told off by a boss publicly. As she was text-tapping away carrying on two simultaneous conversations, “I’ve forgotten more already in my twenty-four years than he would like to know…” Now poke your nose into the future a moment and see if you can bring into focus what the kids of today will be like as adults. Children in carriages are already playing with technology. What’s even more amazing is whatever quantum homonym you use to describe their affinity for technology, they solve complex problems that leave adults scratching their heads.

Jim Grant is a Leadership and Executive Coach living in Helsinki, Finland. Are you looking for someone to help pick some new colours for your company? Give him a call at +358 40 178 1030 or e-mail:

“I’m Fine…” – Blog by Jim Grant

The glacial pace of personal progress stands out in stark contrast to our focus on business liabilities.



A freshly minted Vice President of six months sat beside me in my home office. In casual  business banter, he was explaining why he had come to me for coaching. He had been experiencing a few sleepless nights, some guilt and regretting some career path decisions abruptly trailing off with “I’m fine, but…“ A familiar silhouette was emerging of how he had made compromises to get where he was today; stepping on some toes, taking advantage of situations and people and telling some lies. My intrusive question, “How many lies do you tell a day?” saw his jaw drop and a high pitched “What…” warble through an agape mouth.

I went on to explain that on average a person tells about four lies a day, or 1460 lies a year. We learn how to do this very young, being caught in a lie or doing something wrong we’ve learned retribution as a child is a hard task-master. Further, I shared by my math from about six years old when we start lying; I’ve told roughly 90,000 lies. “Do you know what the most common lie is that we tell?” “No,” he meekly replied, “I’m fine…” I said.

I sense why we do is because our lies embed themselves in the stories we tell ourselves compared to what lies within us. ‘So why not change,’ musing further, “I realize I am not quite ready or willing to face the change I need for myself.” It’s expedient, and I’m like a cow chewing its cud. My mind is content regurgitating and chewing on what I’ve already digested in my thoughts, memories and most of those old lies.

Business leaders I talk to offer that the real scoundrel is the polite, intelligent, civil self we convince ourselves we are becoming. Delving deeper in discussions with other executives those talks advocate something of the smaller personality self, resisting change because of how we think about something.  I went on to share how mine knows all my stories by heart parading my emotional and mental laundry before my awareness including all the soiled things. The stains on my threadbare excuses are scars of how my mind tells myself about my old hurts and my fears. Self-deception’s veil of the small self is thin and cleverly hides the details. As close as we get to the truth is along the lines of “I’m not telling a lie, I’m just not telling the whole truth.” Make no mistake, It’s in our actions, not words; how I behave, not what I say.

I’m aware I frequently know the truth before I ask the question. So why do I ask the question? I ask for confirmation. Touching my intuition (gut) and listening from there develops my capacity to connect with my truth. It’s how I reference what’s right outside of me. Being factual and honest with myself is possible when I’m present to others and speaking that truth, my truth – to myself first. Then “I’m fine…”

Jim Grant is an Executive and Leadership Coach (PCC) living in Helsinki FInland. If you would like to have a chat around personal development and leadership challenges, give him a call at: +358 40 178 1030 or e-mail him at