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Monday, January 12, 2015

Nine habits of highly effective complainers

  1. Voice one complaint at a time. Too many issues will overwhelm the listener. What's really important to you? Focus on that first.
  2. Practice! Start with easier complaints and work your way up to more meaningful ones.
  3. Identify the person who has the power to make the changes you seek; then complain to that person directly. I hate to think of all the times I've launched into a lengthy complaint, only to discover that I was squawking to the wrong person. Rather than feel like an idiot, just ask at the outset: "Who do I need to talk to in order to...?"
  4. Before you voice your dissatisfaction, identify exactly what you hope to gain. What is your goal? How will you know if you've been successful?
  5. Before you complain, get your anger under control. Yes, that's difficult. And you may have a perfect right to be angry. But if you spatter hot fury all over the recipient of your complaint, he or she will focus more on your venom than on helping you. Remember: You want to achieve your goal, not just vent.
  6. Whip up a "complaint sandwich." Start with an ear-opener—something that will help the recipient of the complaint become sympathetic. Add the meat—your actual request for redress of your grievances. Finish it off with a digestive—words that will increase the listener's motivation to help you. Short example: "I've been a customer of Slipshod Corporation for 5 years, and I've generally been happy with your service. Last month I noticed an extra charge on my account for a service I never ordered, and I would like that removed. I would really appreciate your help with this."
  7. Admit your part of the problem, if you do have some culpability in the matter. Your honesty will reflect positively on you, make your claims more believable, and perhaps even inspire some reciprocity.
  8. Resist the temptation to become a chronic complainer, lest you slide over the slippery slope into victimhood. Choose your issues: Some complaints are simply not worth your time and trouble. Let them go!
  9. Become mindful of situations when compliments are called for. Give specific feedback about what you liked, and hopefully you'll get more of it in the future.

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