First, there’s the normal kind of bitching, the one you listen to in 95% of cases. I don’t think I need to explain it to you.
Second, there’s a slightly more helpful kind of bitching, the one where you go above your supervisor’s authority–right to your boss’s boss–to resolve an issue. You put the onus on someone else to do what you’re not able to. It can be helpful, but it’s not exactly brave, and it ultimately leads to distrust.
Third, there’s the most productive kind of bitching in which you, and perhaps a mediator, talk to the person you’re having an issue with and resolve it.
And the fourth kind of bitching: You take several years to develop trust with your supervisor–talking to each other, learning from each other, building things together–so that when it comes time to resolve an issue your supervisor has so much respect for you that he can’t help but take your opinion seriously.
The fourth kind of bitching is also called “Leadership,” and it’s incredibly hard to come by.