Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to Complain

Complain only when you have to.

Some people love to complain. On a Facebook page for parents run by my daughter’s college, one woman complained her daughter had a roommate who was never there. What?! My kid would give her eye teeth to have what is, essentially, a private room for the cost of a double.

When my kids were small, we sometimes went out with other families. There were some parents who would invariably complain in restaurants. They always wanted a different table. Or they’d let their kid order something, and then when it came and the kid said he didn’t want it, order the waiter, with a wave of their hand, to take it back. Of course, they didn’t want to pay for it. All the while, I was praying, “Please don’t spit in my food.”

People who like to complain do it because they want to take their frustrations out on a safe target (like the poor sap working the ticket counter at the airport) or to feel like “big wheels.”

Call me crazy, but I think lodging a complaint should be entirely goal-oriented: you’re trying to fix a situation that’s not right.

Consider what your approach is likely to trigger.

Is it getting you what you want?

The stupidest complainers ever were people in our apartment building who were consistently ugly to the super, the man who decided when, and if, your clogged toilet got fixed. I baked him cookies and paid his teenage son to water our plants when we were on vacation. Guess whose stuff got fixed first?

Be nice, reasonable, sane.

A hissy fit only gives them a reason to not help you.

You can always escalate later if you need to … and you don’t usually need to.

Really, it’s not hard.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! What gets my goat are all the folks who love to complain but are missing in action when it's time to give out a simple compliment. About ten years ago my daughter had a pulmonary embolism (caused by her birth control pills) that one of our local ER doctors was quick enough to diagnose in time after several other people missed it. I wrote him a heartfelt thank you letter and told him people are quick to want someone's scalp when things go bad, but when good things happen, especially in medicine, they take it for granted. I wanted him to know how much we all appreciated his expertise and knowledge. That happened right before Thanksgiving. You can bet we had a lot to be thankful for that year.