The Anatomy of a Complaint

A complaint always comes to you in a few ways – in most cases it is either very loud (i.e., an explosion in a meeting) or very soft (i.e., someone coming into your office, slumping down in their chair, feeling dejected).

Whichever the case I’m constantly amazed at the overall contrast between the need for people to make the complaint vs the desire to do something about it.  These are two very different things and they originate from the above – getting it out – feeling like you have unloaded and/or transferred it to someone else which creates this initial bit of euphoria but then… then… what?  Nothing.

It’s as though the act of raising the complaint can be measured as sufficient enough to transfer it to someone else when really it should be seen as that “AHA” moment where you hear yourself speaking about  the good, the bad and the ugly and you start to realize – “oh perhaps I could try this or that”.  I love those moments, I love watching people experience those moments… I’ll sit there for 15 minutes listening to everything… only for them to start to piece together what is really at the core of their problem.  It is only then I will start to interject on how I can help them perhaps what other avenues they can pursue.

In the end, a complaint does not always have to be composed of…

“Raise Complaint.  Bring others in.  Transfer Frustration. Leave.”

But instead can be composed of…

“Raise Complaint.  Ponder.  Own.  Take Action.  Leave”

Too often people stop at the raising of the complaint, sucking other people into that vortex and look for that transfer of frustration without ever wanting to figure out and own what the real problem is (whether it’s them or something else).

The first anatomy/composition is easier, but the second will get you further.

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