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« Help! I’m A Recovering Sinner! | Main | Behavior with Regard to the Second Coming of Christ. »

The Complaint Department

COMPLAINING IS NOT ALL BAD. In fact, complaining kicks things into action. It all starts with the baby fussing over a wet diaper, an empty stomach or an irritation of some sort. All of a sudden, the pitiful little wah-wah’s unleash an avalanche of clean, dry clothes, milk and soothing pats and cooing voices. Even without cognitive processes, this formula gets hard wired into his brain: Need + Complaints = Satisfaction. Each time, something that feels good, tastes good or makes the pain go away rewards his protest. He’s hooked. Complaining gets him what he wants. 

Then, something starts going wrong. She cries louder, but she hears a strange, unfriendly sound in reply. He then throws his complaint into an ear-splitting high gear, falls to the ground and kicks his legs. Instead of the usual hands of comfort reaching out to him, however, rough hands grab him and yank him to his feet and plop him in a chair facing the corner. Hey! What in the world is going on? Her learned behavior that had always worked in the past now delivers a very different result. As he matures, most of these dilemmas work themselves out, but even as an adult, a certain level of residual annoyance always surfaces when his or her complaining fails to yield a satisfactory outcome. 

What have we learned? The way we complain, even when we have legitimate gripes, produce mixed results. None of us ever really stop complaining—but, we can get better at it. Consider the following guidelines to smarter complaining. 

1. Thou shalt not complain about unimportant things. People will think you are a big baby and will pay less and less attention to you.

2. Thou shalt not complain about things which cannot be changed. Weather, traffic, gas prices—why complain about things you can’t control?

3. Thou shalt not complain in an offensive manner. Coming across like an ogre spoils your complaint. Venting doesn’t address the problem.

4. Thou shalt not complain at a bad time. Every job runs into peak activity time when interruptions can’t be allowed. Choose the right time.

5. Thou shalt not complain to the wrong people. Problem with the boss? Complaining to a fellow worker, customer or client makes it worse.

6. Thou shalt not complain without ceasing. Fussing about anything and everything all the time gets really old. Firing you will be the solution!

7. Thou shalt complain about real health and safety issues. These problems must be addressed immediately for obvious reasons.

8. Thou shalt complain about unfair treatment. Discrimination or bigotry on the job must not be tolerated.

9. Thou shalt complain if reasonable, human expectations are not met. Every employee has a right to expect clean, sanitary workplace, a work area kept at a right temperature, functional restrooms properly stocked and a secure environment.

10. Thou shalt complain if you are prevented from performing your job. Any situation with personnel or workplace conditions that interferes with your job performance needs to be reported. 

Many of the issues that arise in the work environment don’t warrant the label of a complaint. They may simply be small problems that need to be pointed out so they can be easily resolved. Sometimes, however, major conflicts do occur that require everyone’s attention. You should have enough self-respect and good will toward your business and employer to talk about such conflicts. Bosses should welcome legitimate complaints. Many full-blown crises could be avoided if the right people would feel free to address the issues when they are first noticed. Complaints that get taken care of promptly and properly mean contented workers, happy bosses and satisfied customers.

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