I recently took a phone call from a prospective client. The immediate topic of discussion wasn’t about “chronic complainers”, it was singular, about a “chronic complainer” that he wanted to discuss. As the conversation unfolded it was clear he had, once again, had a “heat of the moment” encounter. Realizing, on my part, not much gets accomplished in such moments, I instead began to “practice what I preach” and listened fully to his complaining about a complainer. It also became obvious to me that he himself was going to follow the same “dysfunctional pattern” of “asymmetrical communication” that enables the constant cycling of “emotional stuff” over and over. Finally, I asked him, inserting myself just a bit assertively, “can I give you some tips?”. “That’s what I called for!”, he affirmed.
o Listen to the complainer with awareness.
o If you hear a “rational point”, affirm it and paraphrase it verbally back to them.
o Move towards getting the complainer to write a formal complaint.
o Once you have the written complaint analyze it and develop a solution.
o Contact the complainer and collaborate with “concession points”.
o Document it, have them sign off on it, with words like “I’m glad we are finally closing this out”.
o “Give it to them.” The rational points and concessions from the process.
This is an asymmetrical approach for “simple issues” and informal circumstances. Yes, I agree, it does not take into consideration “both sides” of a most likely one-sided issue and may even disregard published policy and procedure of an organization or company. Many times “complainers” simply like to be “verbal” and not “write” their words down and the “resolution process” breaks down. It can though, help a “chronic complainer” personality to move on and the receiver of the complaint to provide resolution; and make changes if needed. If it’s beyond this, the situation persists and you feel “stalked” after the attempt, consider professional intervention.