Sometimes we need to rock the boat … but it should aways be something that is carefully thought through. The reality is that nothing changes if people are not prepared to push for change … we would still be in the dark ages if previous generations had not asserted their rights through the ages.
Having said that there are right and wrong ways to approach things … here are some thoughts on the subject.
1. “Nobody likes a whiner” is a fairly common expression, and there is a lot of truth in that. If you have a beef make sure that you are not just whining!
2. Understand the situation before you start to “knock it”. Usually there are very good reasons why things are the way they are … which doesn’t mean that they are optimal, just that someone put effort into the current status, so be sensitive to that.
3. Always be constructive! In the best case scenarios you should pitch solutions not problems, and at a minimum you should identify issues in a non-judgmental fashion! Starting sentences with words like … I can’t believe we do this! etc is just going to get people’s back up.
4. Try to be a team player … how can WE work at this? I would love to help you on this challenge etc.
5. Try to look at the situation from all points of view and understand why the situation is the way it is. If you can understand the other person’s point of view then you have a chance of effecting change.
6. Remember that most people don’t like change, so there will always be resistance to change … if you challenge the status quo in a cooperative manner you will have more chance of success than if you go at it in an adversarial manner.
7. Rocking the boat can be a very positive thing for everyone … if it is seen as positive input with a win all around. It can also be a very negative experience if someone loses … and that can often be the “whining boat rocker”!
The bottom line is that nothing ever changes unless someone makes it happen … the process of boat rocking however can be tricky, so approach with caution!
All of this advice applies at the individual level (both at work and home); it also applies at the company level, in the marketplace and with clients; and finally it applies to “special interest groups” whether non-profit or industry groups.