Some friends and I enjoyed a lovely night at Blossom over the weekend. The concert was fantastic, the setting beautiful, the camaraderie welcome and the fireworks entertaining.
When the concert ended, we moved out of the pavilion to enjoy the fireworks as we made our way to the trams that would take us back to the parking lot. If you have never been, Blossom is huge and it takes a while to get out. There were “only” a little over 12,000 people there that night. The lines waiting for the trams were impressive, as was the army walking back up the hill.
Shortly after we got in line, a woman right behind my group started complaining. She admitted to being impatient. She thought the setup was ridiculous. She didn’t want to wait. She tried to jump on the tram ahead of even our group. She is an American and has the right to complain, to write a letter telling them how bad their setup is. She went on and on. And on. She was still complaining when my group was ushered onto the tram. She complained for at least twenty minutes.
She was destructive. She managed to alienate everyone in hearing distance, most of whom were aching to get away from her.
There is a constructive way to complain. You can register a complaint that will be taken seriously, not alienate the people around you, protect your reputation and get results. There are the five keys to constructive complaining:
- Address the complaint to the right person. Complaining to anyone who will (or is forced to) listen is destructive; you will be labeled a complainer and difficult. The right person is the person who can do something about your issue, the person who has the authority to address your concern.
- Always treat the other person with respect. They have the power to help you with your concern – or not. Treating them rudely is not likely to get you a resolution you want and can have unintended consequences.
- Check your emotions. You want to present your case rationally and calmly. Emotional outbursts are not rational. You can be emotional later, in private.
- Explain your issue logically. Tell the person what happened without adding interpretation and judgment. Be clear about your concern.
- Refrain from demanding a particular resolution. Allow the person you are talking with to suggest a fix, and politely respond with your acceptance or concerns. You have the right to accept or not. You may even find they have a resolution that is better than what you were thinking.
If you engage in polite dialogue, you improve your odds for a suitable resolution and you also protect your reputation.