Does it feel like every time you turn around somebody goes off on a rant? Sometimes I love them. Other times I hate them. It all depends on who rants and what they bitch about.

It feels like someone is always complaining about something.

So, what’s the deal? Why the epidemic of whiny complainers?

Sometimes rants come from lack of self-control. Like the guy we all know.

That Constant Complainer

A peer sent me an email yesterday ranting about some bullshit. Every one of us has a coworker, friend or family member who complains about everything. They end or start their emails with a predictable smear.

Nobody does their job but me

Why do I have to fix everyone’s problems?

Who’s getting fired for this stupid mistake?

How Do We Respond To Rants?

We respond in one of three ways:

  1. We roll our eyes and bite our tongues to keep the peace. “Wow. What a whiny baby. Better to just let it go”
  2. We respond with support. “Finally. Someone with the guts to say what we all think”
  3. We respond with opposition. Of course, there are degrees we can oppose. We can temper our response or we can let loose our fury

Here’s the takeaway:

There’s always a few people ready to pat him on the back for his rant.

Ah. You’re speaking my language buddy. Finally, someone brave enough to tell the truth”

Interesting, right? One group ignores him, another wants to destroy him and the third worships him.

How do we explain this conflicting behavior?

The Power Of Groups

The ones cheering  identify with him, his complaints and his pain. They see someone who finally puts into words exactly what they feel. They look at the issue through the same lens.

The ones condemning him look at him like a child who cries when things don’t go his way. They have their own perspective through which they evaluate.

The one who does the ranting strengthens his followers.  They now feel connected. His opposition also strengthens as they rally against him.

Does this sound familiar? Politicians like to exploit this tactic. We may even have a guy in the White House who seems to know how to rant with great effect.

Ranting With Purpose

If you are trying to build a business, brand or reputation, a good rant helps your cause.

The CEO of one of my favorite brands wrote a blog post a few weeks ago. He ranted about the use of inferior materials in a competing product. Most of the responses hailed him for speaking out. They praised the high quality of his company’s products.

A few dissenters accused him of being a cry baby. They saw him as someone complaining about competition, lying about his own quality and accused him of price gauging.

A good rant will provoke strong reactions. It strengthens the loyalty of those who already love you. It also strengthens the hate of those who already hate you.

Can you live with the inevitable backlash? If so, an occasional rant may help solidify the support and loyalty of your tribe.


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