Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A Tip for Effective Complaining

Have you ever asked someone for directions, and they say something like: "and you're going to pass a gas station on your left, don't turn, keep going straight till you pass a school on your right, don't turn, just keep going straight, over a bridge and then keep going straight - no turn yet - till you get to a stop light and then go straight till Main Street where you go left"?

That is completely too much information for me.

I would like directions that say: "go straight until Main Street, and then make a left."

Please do not give me all the extraneous information regarding churches, gas stations, schools, sheep grazing in a meadow.  Maybe it's just me, but my exhausted brain can only handle the relevant information.  Please weed out the detail, and focus me on what I need to know.

Yesterday, a colleague came to see me for advice.  She needs to lodge a formal complaint on behalf of a relative at a health care centre.  She told me the complaint - let's say she didn't think the place was a good fit- and then she started telling me about every other encounter her relative had ever had at a range of doctor's offices, hospitals, community centres and parking lots throughout the city.

I don't care.

Not to be mean.  But if you are complaining about the ice cream melting, I don't need to know that you had ice cream in Italy, and by the way it's called Gelato there, and the flavors - oh, the flavors - and you go to Italy every summer, but this year you are thinking about France, maybe a houseboat.

Stay focused.

When you are lodging a complaint, formal or informal, know what your issue is and stick to it.

You may see gas stations, stores, or a few sheep grazing in a meadow.

Just keep going straight.


  1. Some people just don't know how to explain something simply. Even when I get a compliment I start to explain something pertaining to it. That just me.

  2. I got only EXCELLENT service in the hospital these last 3 days by keeping a smile on my face at all times, starting with a little joke everytime and then asking ONLY for the thing I REALLY REALLY needed. worked every single time.

  3. I'm purely visual with directions. I like to know to turn left when you hit the giant orange or if you get to the bikers bar then you have gone too far.