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To Be Happier, More Productive at Work, Adjust Your Level of Complaining

A new study suggests you should show "sportsmanship" instead of complaining about problems at work.

A still photograph of Ron Livingston from the film Office Space, a 1999 American comedy film written and directed by Mike Judge.

Complaining about work-related problems actually cements their impact, says a new study in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. The results suggest practicing "sportsmanship" instead.

Researchers Evangelia Demeroutia and Russell Cropanzano asked 112 employed people in various industries to write diary entries – one in the morning, one in the afternoon – for three consecutive days. At the end of each workday, participants reported how much they had complained, focused on negative events, and blew situations out of proportion.

If someone reported low levels on these items, it meant they had practiced “good sportsmanship,” which the researchers defined as something like the willingness to tolerate the annoyances and inconveniences of organizational life without complaining. 

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