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 in your life right now? Something that’s been winding you up 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?
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 day care 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 3, 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 continues, and continues and our complaining continues.
Why do we so often take out complaints somewhere other than the source? It’s strange when you think about it, given that it’s only the source who actually has a potential shot at fixing it? So why do we do it?
Because it’s 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 day care 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 pay rise 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 it within our comfort zone.
The big question then is, do you want to feel comfortable more than you want the situation resolved? Or, do you want the situation resolved more than you 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 you want. Stop holding out for a magical resolution or for things to just magically fix themselves and stay comfortable with the venting.
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.
By all means, take your advice and sounding board from your regular department 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, it’s time you take the bull by the horns and take it to where it actually belongs.
The real Complaints Department where I could get potential resolution to my problem is __________________________________________________ .
The outcome I would like to shoot for is _______________________________________.
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 Complaints Department can help you with all of that.