I think complaining is an art form. There should be scores of admirers and Oscars awarded to honor those who are truly gifted complainers. Being an executive for so many years, I’ve had the privilege of being on the receiving end of a great deal of complaining over the years, so I consider myself something of a connoisseur on the subject; I also have tremendous respect for the folks who get it right.
First off, you need to separate complaining when your rights or company policy are violated versus everything else. If you have a rights issue like harassment, then your path should be to keep the description of the situation simple, keep it objective, keep the documentation of the incident(s) organized and escalate it through the right channel (HR, your boss, the police, etc). I don’t consider this type of thing ‘complaining’ – it’s more like ‘reporting’. In fact, when dealing with this area, ambiguity clouds the issues, so you want to make sure the report of the incident(s) is as concise as possible, so people don’t get sidetracked with distracting and possibly irrelevant information. This situation sucks, but sometimes has to happen.
It’s complaining about everything else that lends itself to artistic expression. The absolute masters of complaint don’t really come across as complaining. These folks are generally very positive in outlook and frame up the issues in a way that aligns what they’re trying to achieve, clearly, with what is in the best interests of the company. It makes the issues very easy to understand. What makes it even easier to bridge the gap between simply understanding and being motivated to take action, is when it’s clear that a positive outcome will be achieved by making change. I love these folks as employees, customers and suppliers because dealing with one of their complaints gets the company to a positive outcome.
Read the complete blog article by Keith Ellis of IAG Consulting and the thread of comments and discussion on the topic on BA Times website at http://www.batimes.com/keith-ellis/the-fine-art-of-complaining.html