Posted in differences, mindset

Noticing vs. complaining

As a child, I was an introvert and socially anxious and shy.

As a result, I spent a lot of time watching. I was so anxious about making a social misstep that I watched and learned quite a bit about how other people interact (for better or for worse).

As a result, I notice a lot.

Sometimes, these things involve me. Sometimes, they’re not positive. Happens to all of us. Not worried about it as a general rule.

Regardless of my involvement in them, these things are often interesting to me (I think sometimes I should have been a sociologist), and I initiate conversations with people about what I notice.

But I’m learning (based—ironically?—on what I notice about people’s reactions) that most people don’t (can’t?) differentiate between “This is something I noticed” and “This is something I’m complaining about.”

(The cultural “expectation” that women don’t say what they mean doesn’t help me on this. Saying, “I’m not complaining—I just noticed that _____” doesn’t often help. More on this another day.)

Is this a thing? Is it possible to just have a conversation about something negative without it being a complaint?

I think so, but my experience is telling me that my opinion is in the minority.

When I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a colleague who started to explain that she was just noticing, not complaining, I understood immediately what she meant and had one of those “she is my people” moments.

What do you think? How would you define the difference between the two?


My name is Heat! (It's short for Heather.) My last name is Polish and has a few Zs in it and it's really just easier this way.