7 Steps to Complain Effectively (and Gain 10 Hours a Month)

Image with clocks and the blog post title: 7 Steps to Complain Effectively

Complain effectively and issues get resolved. Plus, research shows it will free up 10 hours a month of your time.

We discussed complaining on The BIGG Success Show today. Here’s a summary of that discussion.

This show was inspired by an article on Harvard Business Review by Peter Bregman. He does an excellent job showcasing the reasons for and results of complaining.

The two of us fight the same urge to complain as everyone else. So we designed this episode as a reminder to us. We hope it helps you as well.

Peter mentions a study by renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith. He found that workers spend more than 10 hours a month, on average, complaining about their boss and senior management – not to mention anyone else.

If you believe time is money, complaining carries a considerable cost.

Why do we complain?

We may feel the need to vent, to ease the discomfort. Or we seek solace in the agreement of a fellow worker. We need people on our side.

It makes us feel better…for a while.

However, we feel frustration because nothing has been accomplished. We talked to the wrong person, a third-party, rather than the involved party.

It’s a never-ending cycle.

Worse yet, you may get dubbed a negative Ned or Nellie.

Complain effectively or easily

There are two ways to complain. You can go the easy way, as we described above. Or you can strive for effectiveness.

The easy way is destructive. It tears people down. It flows from negative energy. It’s ineffective.

The effective way is constructive. It lifts people up. It flows from positive energy. By definition, and in practice, it’s effective.

The easy way may feel good at the moment, but the feeling is fleeting.

The effective way will free up 10 hours a month, plus leave you happier and more successful in the long-run.

7 steps to complain effectively

Don’t be a complainer. Be a resolver. Here’s how:

Step 1) Address the right person
Find the person who can fix the issue.

Step 2) Plan on a conversation, not a confrontation
Your purpose is NOT to take them down. You can resolve the issue and build the relationship. The rest of these steps will help with this one.

Step 3) Seek first to understand
As we learned from Stephen Covey, start the conversation by exploring the issues from the other person’s point-of-view. In other words, ask questions until you can grasp where they’re coming from.

Step 4) Address it with the right tone
Don’t scream. Don’t sound irritated. If you can’t talk about the issue without emotion, stay away from it until you can discuss it rationally.

Step 5) Discuss how it makes you feel
Your interpretation of the facts can be argued. But no one can dispute how something made you feel. Plus, by discussing your feelings, the other person usually becomes sympathetic. They begin to understand (see Step 3).

Step 6) Use your passive voice (if possible)
Rather than “you” or “your”, talk in terms of “this” or “that”. In other words, don’t say: “When you did this…”; replace it with: “When this was done, I felt…”

Step 7) Offer a solution to the problem (if possible)
Don’t be one of the many people who only see problems. Be one of the few who also offers one or more solutions.

Follow these seven steps to resolve issues, so you can be more productive. and gain 10 hours a month. It leads to BIGG success!

BIGG Takeaway

Complaining is the easiest way to accomplish nothing.

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