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Art of Complaining

Updated on March 30, 2018

Imagine you bought an item from a shop and it turned out to be defective and you take it back to complain about it. You go directly to the shop assistant and tell them your problem only to find out that they cannot help it, resulting in a heated argument and sometimes perhaps to a point where you start insulting or shouting. End result? No solution to your problem!

Many times, be it in our personal or professional lives, we end up in these kinds of situation where we have an issue with a product or service. Whether or not we reach the resolution we are seeking is very much dependent on how skilled we are at complaining and the kind of behavior we display in that specific solution. Here are some tips to help you complain effectively and some factors that need to kept in consideration when complaining.

Approach the right person

The first thing that needs to be done before voicing a complaint is to identify the person who has the power and authority to make the decision and then approach that relevant person. Although in such a situation we really want to give vent to our feeling but doing this vociferously on an innocent sales representative or receptionist or to the first person you see, and expected from them to rectify the problem has an increased probability of you wasting your time and even ending up in an argument with them (as in the situation above) since they may be powerless to take any action to provide with a solution to your concern.

Get your Anger under Control

Another principle point (perhaps the most important one) to keep in mind when you begin to complain is to keep your anger under control. Yes, it’s difficult in such circumstances since you may have all the reason to be so, but in an argument it’s useless and it won’t take you anywhere anger only results in preventing you and the person you are complaining to from seeing logic and reason.


One Complain at a Time

Next, if you have too many complaints, voice one at a time. Too many complaints at one go might not work in your favor and can distract the person addressing your concerns from the important ones. He/She may become frustrated with too many complaints at once coming their way, so focus on the ones that are more of significance and let go of the ones that can be done without.

Admit your Part in the Problem

If you have even a little part in the occurrence of the problem or in the matter you are complaining about, admit it. It may not always be easy to do so since you want to be right in such a situation and you want your complaint to sound, with no fault of yours, for it to be accepted and addressed. Admitting mistakes though does not make a person or their argument sound weak. Rather, your honesty and fair dealing will reflect positively on you and even inspire similar response from the other end.

Be Prepared to listen

Just as you want to be heard, the person you are complaining to also have the right to be heard and clarify their position. After you have started your position listen to the response of the other person patiently, even if you do not agree. This will help in establishing respect and will show that you are willing to work through the problem, and not enforce yourself, thereby sending a positive message across.

Never Threaten

A lot of times, when dissatisfied with the response we get to our complaint, we tend to threaten to leave us customer but believe me, most of the times the only thing you get in result is a shrug! Try avoid this strategy and instead look for a more tactful way of handling of the problem such as the one that follows...

Making a Complaint Sandwich:

Psychologist and an expert on the issue of complaining, guy winch, in his book, ’the squeaky wheel’ terms ‘the complaint sandwich’ as a key to effective complaining if you really want the person to listen to what you have to say you ought to make a complaint sandwich. Here’s how it works: start with an ear opener, i.e., something like praise or something that will help the recipient of the complaint become sympathetic rather than go on the defensive at the very beginning. Then is the time to add the meat-the actual request for resolution. This should be more as asking for a favor rather than demanding action. Finally, finish off with a digestive-something that makes the complaint more palatable and motivates the listener to help you, such as the words, “I would really appreciate…, “or try offering a solution yourself. A complaint sandwich along with a combination of the above strategies may do the job for you.


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    • KCO profile image

      Katy Medium 

      9 months ago from Denver, CO

      Great article! I liked the "Complaint Sandwich" tip.


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