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How to Complain

·2 mins

How to Apologize covered how to apologize, but what if you are on the other side of that conversation? We all encounter situations occasionally where we need to complain in a professional and respectful way, and without the ability to make an effective complaint, it’s difficult to maintain systems of accountability. Here’s a complaint template you can try the next time someone at work or at home fails to keep a commitment.

Before entering into a conversation like this, please consider the following:

  • Are you still mad about the broken promise? If so, take a bit more time to ensure that you are in an emotional state conducive to effective conversation.
  • Ask yourself if you are sure that the original request was clear and the other party made a firm commitment. A request on its own doesn’t make a promise.
  • Breathe.

Once you are ready to enter into the conversation, here are the key steps.

  1. Confirm that a promise was made and not kept by restating the facts of the promise.

    “Paul, I understood from our previous conversation that you promised to deliver the Q3 sales projections by the end of the day yesterday. Do I have that right?”
  2. Assert that the promise was broken.

    “Yet I didn’t receive the information until 3:00 this afternoon.”
  3. Share the consequences, if any, that the failure to follow through on the commitment caused for you.

    “As you know, we had our team meeting with the boss this morning, and I had to tell her that I didn’t have the numbers she needed. She wasn’t happy about it, and I felt embarrassed.”
  4. Request redress of the consequences (in exchange for forgiveness) and discuss how to prevent similar problems in the future. As you respond, be mindful of whether this is an isolated instance or a trend.

    “How can we keep this from happening again?”

If it’s hard for you to imagine a conversation like this going well for you at work, consider whether you have a work culture that values accountability and promise keeping.

A Thought to Ponder #

Words don’t mean anything. People mean things.
—Tim Mackie

Something Delightful #

I don’t really understand what’s going on in this video other than it’s a Wushu competition. As you watch, keep in mind that the spear is definitely “pointy.”