January 24, 2008

Everybody needs a good whinge partner

Whinge isn't a word that I heard before moving to the UK. It basically means whining and complaining, but it is one of those British terms that goes that extra mile, I mean kilometer, to provide the perfect description. Whinging is ageless while whining is something you would use more to describe kids.

By the way whinge is pronounced windj as in wind with a j sound at the end. (This reminds me of how my great uncle Syd use to spell Kweskin "we skin with a k").

I believe a good whinge requires a witness, someone who is there to fully receive your whinging. That was the role I played today for one of my work associates who we will call Mr. Whinge. Mr. Whinge doesn't like change and unfortunately he is facing it head-on with a web-based program that has recently been modified to present information in a different format from what he is used to. Instead of brushing him off as he whinged about the program, I decided instead to sit next to Mr. Whinge and fully witness, encourage and embrace his whinging.

Mr. Whinge went on and on about how the new presentation format just didn't work for him. He had to hit this button and that key and request this document until he finally got to what he needed (whinge, whinge, whinge). Unfortunately while I was sitting there coaching him through the whinge session he actually found a solution to his problem. This nearly disrupted his whinge but being a professional whinger he expertly obsessed over how prior to this new discovery the presentation format didn't work for him.

Mr. Whinge: It is so annoying. Why did they change it? I can't find what I need (whinge, whinge, whinge.)

Amy: Look, you just figured out a way to make it work for you. (annoyingly chipper, solution-focused American)

Mr. Whinge: But it didn't work before and that is so annoying. (whinge, whinge, whinge)

Amy: You figured it out. That's great.

Mr. Whinge: But now I have to remember how to make it work. (whinge, whinge, whinge)

Amy: How about we check-in next week and you can tell me how it's working for you?

Mr. Whinge: There will be little bits of shredded paper all over the floor and pieces of the computer embedded in the wall by then. (whinge, whinge, whinge)

Amy: Fantastic, I look forward to viewing the mess. (chipper American)

It was quite amusing for me, and I think even for Mr. Whinge, that I fully indulged his whinging. After all, he really just wanted some attention and I didn't need to provide any solutions. It was a rather therapeutic session. I highly recommend getting a whinge partner.