Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Complaining Effectively

I was out for lunch today and listened to various people complaining about their relations and business problems. Then, later back at home I got online "socializing" reading some complaints on a web site when I realized I was really enjoying the complaining. Usually, when people complain, they speak from under the problem - if you could visualize that, and it ends up being discouraging for the rest of us listeners since there is usually not much we can do to help them. However, when I hear or read effective complaining, it is usually presented with a sense of humor. This perspective is so different as the complainer is basically poking fun at the problem instead of whining.
Listen to this quote from a talented writer as she complains... "There's a young woman over there with a laugh that, to quote the great Wodehouse, you could use to open shellfish at 50 feet."
You can't help but smile as we have all heard the annoying laughers that seem to forget the decibel levels of normal listeners.

How about this complaint..."The local teenagers and summering college kids have hit the streets tonight. It is extremely disturbing, since I do not approve of summer even when things are quiet."
At first, it sounds like another complaint from an 'older citizen' until you read the last phrase and you see that she was already disapproving of things before the kids came out. You can almost hear the smile in her voice.
The next time you want to effectively complain, try adding a little humor and see how much better people listen. By the way, I was quoting Anne Lamott, a prolific writer.