Recipe for a Great Complaint: Requires Honey

Bees.(Thanks to everyone who welcomed Stacey Alcorn as a guest contributor to Tuesday Tactics! This week we bring you a handy guest post from Stacey on the art of the great complaint.)

No one likes to complain, but sometimes a complaint is required for opening up a dialogue and resolving a problem. The goal of a great complaint is to constructively stoke someone to action. Most people are terrible at filing a complaint, so much so that they typically never get the results. If you want results, learn how to cook up a great complaint:

1. Don’t Always Be a Complainer: Complaints carry more weight from people who complain infrequently. Have you ever received an email from someone and you hesitated to open it because you knew it contained yet another complaint? If you’re that person, you’re more likely to be ignored. Complain carefully!

2. Mix in Some Honey: Pay a compliment! If, in making a complaint, you offer nothing more than just the issue you are upset about, the other party will raise their defenses. Nobody likes to hear about what they are doing wrong. In making a complaint, it behooves you to sweeten the conversation with all the things you like and appreciate about the situation or person before you deliver the sting of the complaint.

3. Offer a Solution: The worst type of complaint is one that offers no solution. It’s laziness on the part of the complaining party to lodge a complaint without offering a solution. If there’s something you don’t like give the other party an idea on how to fix it. In fact, if you skip this step you run the risk of the other side making a change that is still contrary to the solution you would have liked to see happen.

4. Avoid Ultimatums: Most people believe the quickest way to get the result they are looking for is by offering an ultimatum, but nothing could be further from the truth. An ultimatum is a threat and threats builds walls. If you are clear with the other side that you will continue to remain as a customer, friend, or employee, it tells the other party that you respect him/her so much that you will live with the decision either way. Making it clear that the relationship remains unchanged even where no change is made as a result of the complaint builds a bridge between the parties, where it is more likely that a compromise may be reached.

Follow these four simple steps and your complaint will come across as a friendly suggestion for a mutually agreeable solution. With the lines of communication open, relationships continue to thrive.

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