For a variety of reasons, this has been a frequent topic among family and friends the last few weeks. It’s also a question I’ve struggled with in the past. At what point does valid discussion and/or complaining become detraction? For a hypothetical example, let’s say you’ve been assigned to do a presentation with a coworker. She has a long history of treating you poorly, and gossiping and lying about you around the office. She isn’t a good worker and screws up just about everything she touches. For the client presentation you’re required to dress professionally and modestly and the client expects a succinct, no-nonsense presentation.
Your coworker doesn’t do her share of the work and you have to cover everything she failed to do. The day of the presentation she wears a somewhat sleazy, extremely low-cut dress with no bra and a ton of garish makeup. In addition to treating you rudely and insulting you in front of the client, she goes off-script numerous times, keeps laughing and slurring her speech and knocks over part of the presentation. When the two of you get back to the office, your manager yells at you and you only for screwing up the presentation.
When you get home you’re furious. You tell your wife how poorly the day went. After telling her how she didn’t do her share of the project, mistreated you and screwed up the presentation, you tell her you think she was drunk and that she looked like a prostitute. You then suggest that, based on how she wasn’t held accountable for screwing up the presentation, she’s probably having an affair with your manager.
At what point, if any, did you cross the line from righteous anger and making a valid complaint to committing detraction?