Comfort V’s resolution. 

I have a complaint to make! Specifically about the amount of complaining that goes on. Go on, tell me, list it right now – what’s one thing/person/situation that’s really winding you up right now? Something that’s been frustrating for a while.

Go: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Okay. Now list for me the last person you told about this problem:  ________________________________________________________________________________

And, just for good measure – what would be a great resolution for you to this totally annoying sitch? What do you want to happen? What would fix it?
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Roger that.

So – here’s the thing. What is horribly common with most ongoing complaints, is that pretty much most of the time we don’t take the complaint to the person or place who can actually do something about it. We complain to our spouse about the marketing department delivering creative late again. We complain to our peer that one of our staff or our boss isn’t pulling their weight. We complain to our best friend that our partner doesn’t help round the house enough. We tell the boys that the golf pro is always late turning up for the scheduled lesson. We tell the lady in the coffee shop on the adjacent table that the coffee is good but the cake is a bit dry. We tell the girls that the daycare doesn’t do as much educational play as they should. We tell everyone on Facebook that the flight was delayed. And so on.

Essentially we take our complaints  – not to the Complaints Department  – but to Menswear On Three, or Home Furnishings in the basement. And – sympathetic though those departments may be – they cannot fix the problem. And so – whilst we may feel temporary relief at venting – the situation perpetuates, and our complaining continues.

Why do we so often take our complaint somewhere other than the source? It’s strange when you think about it, given that it’s only the source who actually has a potentially shot at fixing it.

Because its risk free that’s why. It does not require us to step up and be courageous enough to have a tough conversation or take tough action to schedule a meeting to take the Marketing Director to task. It’s much more comfortable to vent to Brenda about the daycare then go meet with the centre manager and say the standard isn’t acceptable and ask what potential changes could be made. It’s easier to gossip in the café than risk offending the nice barista over the disappointing cake. It’s easier to vent with the girls/boys than have an uncomfy convo with the spouse about sex or housework or money. It’s easier to complain about the pay than to front up and ask for a payrise or go do the training course that would put us in line for promotion. Complaining feels like relief because it’s stress free and it’s risk free. Essentially complaining to people other than the source keeps us well within our comfort zone.

The real question then is – do we want to feel comfortable more than we want the situation resolved?  Or, do we want the situation resolved more than we want to feel comfortable?

If the answer is to choose comfort over resolution – then we will be stuck in the loop of complaining for much time to come. And that’s okay – if that is indeed what we want. Stop holding out for a magical resolution or for things to just magically fix themselves and stay comfortable with the venting and the problem itself.

However – if we decide we want the situation resolved and are prepared to feel uncomfortable temporarily in order to achieve that, then a whole new world opens up to us:

If we accept a degree of risk. If we speak up. Request what we want. Demand what we want. Give options. Change our communication. Try something new. Try an alternative. Leave. If we take our complaint to the actual place it has any chance of being resolved – the Complaints Department  – it will require varying degrees of courage – but the only way OUT of a niggling ongoing complaint situation is THROUGH – you have to take it to the place where you can get resolution. And that is the source.

For sure, take your advice and sounding board from others as a sense check if that feels good. A second opinion can be really useful. But then – if you find you are complaining about the same thing for the third coffee catch up in a row  – its time to take the bull by the horns and take it to where it actually belongs.

Be brave.  Take a risk. Ask for efficiency. Ask for respect. Ask for bonus air miles. Ask for a raise.  Ask for fresh baked cake.

The real Complains Department can help you with all of that. You’ve just got to ask.