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What's Up Magazine

Your Personal Complaint Department

Mar 04, 2011 09:42PM ● By Anonymous


Psychotherapist Guy Winch, Ph.D., offers practical and psychologically grounded advice on how to complain more productively in his new book, The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Relationships, and Enhance Self-Esteem (Walker & Co., 2011).

He believes that we tend to complain about everything these days.  That may be true, but surely it can be a good thing to simply vent, even if we don’t expect meaningful results.  But wasting time and energy on complaints, Winch feels, can take an emotional and psychological toll on our moods and well-being, making us feel hopeless, helpless, and powerless.

Personal empowerment, he argues, is not just about feeling powerful, but about having actual influence in our social context.  The most efficient way to attain personal empowerment is by pursuing a meaningful complaint with a loved one so you can achieve the result you want and feel the positive impact on your life.

Dr. Winch recommends the following five steps:

• Choose only one complaint at a time.

• Ask for a time to talk so you have their full attention.

• Keep your complaint to one incident and don’t generalize it into broader criticism.

• Keep you tone as neutral as you can—anger distracts from your message.

• Use the ‘complaint sandwich”:

  1. Bread:  Start with a positive statement so your loved one does not get defensive.
  2. Meat:  Express your complaint or request for redress without anger.
  3. Bread:  End with another positive statement to motivate your loved one to respond positively.