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The Conversation for Complaint


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When something occurs in our life that we feel is unfair it’s natural to complain about it. Looking carefully at the nature of the complaint reveals at least two interesting things about human nature:


• We each have a desire to express to someone that we’re unhappy with what has happened to us and explain why we feel it was unjust. We want to be heard and have our feelings acknowledged. We want someone to affirm that we were mistreated or wronged in some way. Our sense of fairness cries out to be recognized and one of the best ways to do that is to find a sympathetic ear; the empathy of others makes us feel better.


• In addition to our desire to have our complaint heard, we want someone to do something about our situation. We want to have things rectified and get order restored so that we move past the problem and get on with our lives and our work. This requires more than just a sympathetic ear, we need someone with the power to put things right. That’s where knowing how to have an effective conversation for complaint proves to be an invaluable skill.


How we express our complaint, and to whom, determines whether or not our complaint gets resolved in a manner that allows us to move forward and let go of any anger, resentment, resignation or other difficult emotions that are associated with it. The way we complain can also play a critical role in changing the conditions that brought the complaint about in the first place. The conversation for complaint is a core competency for creating healthy boundaries and more harmonious relationships both at work and at home.


The conversation for complaint is a core competency for creating healthy boundaries and more harmonious relationships both at work and at home.