27 Jun 2015 19:11 IST

How to complain effectively

At a time when venting has become a norm, here’s how you can resolve your complaint

Expectations are very rarely matched by reality — that has been the way things are and will continue to be so. In certain instances when reality turns out to be different from what was planned for or expected, the natural reaction is anger, frustration — and the desire to complain about the same.

A plethora of social media platforms has made complaining very easy and this is leading to a dangerous trend of complaining for the sake of doing so. More importantly, people complain and make negative statements in public forums without giving a thought to the implications and repercussions.

Essentially, those wishing to complain want a solution to their problem. If that is true, then complaining has to be done in a manner that will lead to a solution and not magnify the problem. How can you ensure that you resolve the complaint?

Know the difference

Venting is different from complaining. The former is expressing emotions, especially negative ones. If you need to complain, focus on the grievance, and don’t get side-tracked into expressing anger, disappointment, frustration, etc. The problem with venting is that the real issue is ignored and, soon, it becomes all about shouting and fighting.

There might be situations where solutions do not exist, or are very difficult. In such cases, complaining is futile — and venting, even more so. An example would be of numerous complaints and negative comments on social media and discussion forums against an institution or organisation and its inability to live up to the promises made. Such comments are totally unproductive and serve no purpose at all.

Don’t get personal

Complaints are, by and large, about an issue and rarely about a person. However, in most cases, the complaint turns personal very soon. This again serves as a distraction from the real issue and often ends with no solution and a lot of hurt feelings.

Be clear about the desired solution

Before making a complaint, be clear about the desired solution. It is very important that the solution youseek is realistic. If one drones on and on about an issue without a solution in mind, they will miss the resolution when it is being offered. Then the very purpose of complaining is lost.

In cases where the expected solution is unrealistic, the person complaining will continue to be frustrated because the quick-fix offered isn’t acceptable and nothing can be done. Taking the same example mentioned above, if there is a complaint about an institution and its unfulfilled promises, the complaint should be initiated with a realistic solution in mind. If the person expects that the institution would change overnight into an ideal one, it will never happen.

Word of caution

This is about using public forums to air your annoyances. While these are excellent platforms in certain situations and might help in resolving the matter, they have a strong downside, if not used carefully. If such public forums are used to raise complaints, ensure that you follow the three points mentioned above.

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