Whether it’s your partner or an annoying customer-service line, it’s tempting to throw caution to the wind when complaining. But according to an article by Guy Winch in Psychology Today, there is a way to argue effectively and increase your odds of getting what you want out of the situation. Ready to learn a damn worthwhile life lesson (because who doesn’t love to complain every once in a while)?
1 Keep your end goal in mind
According to Winch, if you’re complaining it’s because you’re hoping to achieve a specific outcome. ‘We therefore have to pause and think through what it is we want to achieve before we speak up.’ This may seem obvious if you’re complaining about a service or product, but it may not be as simple as that when it comes to dealing with a friend, colleague or partner. Think about what you’d like to get across or achieve before voicing your complaint.
2 Don’t let anger rule you (even though it can feel tempting AF)
It’s normal to feel angry, but if you let it rule your entire interaction, it probably won’t get you the result you’re hoping for. ‘When our voice gets too loud, our tone too sharp, or when we embellish our message with cursing and put-downs, the recipient’s attention will go to our anger and not to our actual message,’ explains Winch.
3 Narrow down your issues
If you’ve ever watched as your boyfriend shuts down while you vent to him, about him, it’s very understandable that he’d do so. It’s inevitable for someone to become defensive when you’re raising a complaint with them. Why not try narrowing down your complaints in an effort to avoid overwhelming the person on the receiving end of them? ‘Tempting as it is to air all your accumulated irritations at once, don’t: it doesn’t work.’
4 Stop doing the hilariously ineffective thing that we ALL do
Be honest, how often do you complain to the person you should actually be complaining to? ‘We vent to our partner about our friends, and to our friends about our partner. We refuse to call a customer-service line because we anticipate doing so will take too much time and effort, and then spend even more time telling a dozen friends about the incident instead,’ Winch points out. The next time you’re about to complain, consider if your energy is being spent on the right person. If not, save your sanity and think through how you’ll approach it with the person who can actually do something to address your complaint.
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