How to Motivate Complainers and Excuse-givers | Mandy B. Anderson

As I sat across from my client, I couldn’t help but give her a stern look. I wanted my words to sink in. Her face filled with disbelief as she responded, “Did I really just spend the entire coaching session complaining?”

“You did. Look, it’s okay to vent sometimes. But remember, you hired me to be your coach, and you just wasted our time together by focusing on things that are out of your control and that you don’t even like. So, before our next session, I want you to reflect on a few questions.”

To her credit, my client took my tough love well. She pondered over the questions I gave her, and when we met again, she admitted that being called out for her complaining was one of the best things that could have happened to her. Why? Because it made her realize something about herself that she hadn’t noticed before: her mindset.

Leaders, especially female leaders, often struggle with holding others accountable and pushing them to become self-motivated team players with growth mindsets. They fear that saying the wrong thing will make people angry or offended, causing them to not want to work together. However, the truth is that leaders who can cultivate empathy and hold others accountable when necessary are the ones people love to work with!

Before we dive into some effective questions you can use to start motivating the complainers and excuse-givers on your team, let’s shift our perspective on why this is an important skill for leaders to have.

When leaders are able to call out toxic thought patterns and motivate complainers and excuse-givers, they create an environment that fosters growth and productivity. By addressing negative behaviors instead of avoiding them, and encouraging self-reflection, leaders can help individuals recognize the impact of their mindset on their own success and the success of the team.

Leaders who can effectively motivate complainers and excuse-givers also demonstrate their commitment to their team’s success. By holding individuals accountable and challenging them to rise above their excuses, leaders show that they believe in their team’s potential. This builds trust and respect, as team members recognize that their leader is invested in their growth and development.

However, it is important for leaders to find balance between empathy and accountability. While it is crucial to understand and address the underlying reasons behind complaining and excuse-making, leaders must also set clear expectations and provide guidance on how to overcome these behaviors. By doing so, leaders can create a safe space for individuals to express their concerns while also empowering them to take action and find solutions.

As a Certified Executive Coach, I often use the following questions when working with leaders stuck in their own cycle of complaining and excuse-giving. Practice using them, improving your tone and body language to build connection and authority:

5 Questions to Motivate Complainers and Excuse-Givers:

  1. How can I best support you? Do you need someone to listen or are you seeking feedback?
  2. I’ve noticed that you’ve been giving the same excuses repeatedly. Do you want to continue being stuck in these excuses, or are you ready to rise above and work towards what you truly want?
  3. What is this situation you’re complaining about teaching you right now?
  4. What aspects of this situation can you control, despite your complaints?
  5. What has complaining cost you?

By using these questions, you can better motivate team members who tend to complain and make excuses. It empowers them to choose motivation for themselves and reminds them that they have a choice in how they respond to life’s challenges. Internal motivation lasts longer than any external motivation ever could!

Just remember, you are NOT the savior of those you lead. Some individuals may never choose a motivated mindset. But the ones who do are worth the risk!

Mandy B. Anderson

Mandy B. Anderson is a Certified Executive Coach, captivating TEDx Speaker, and the Co-Founder of RAYMA Team™, a renowned life and leadership coaching company. She helped develop their groundbreaking leadership curriculum, RAYMA Foundations™, which revolves around the core values of RAYMA: Resilience, Authenticity, a Yes mindset, Motivation, and Assertiveness. This innovative program seamlessly merges the power of effective life coaching techniques with timeless principles of leadership.

Anderson has also earned the prestigious title of Best-Selling and Award-Winning Author for her book, Dangerous Hope: Planting Something Meaningful in the Soil of Disappointment. To learn how to work with her, visit



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