The definition of complaining is
“Expressing dissatisfaction about a state of affairs or an event.”
There can be many reasons a person might complain. Some are well justified out of a legitimate desire to make things right. If these complaints are followed by action, that is intelligent complaining. There are constructive ways to complain in order to make things better. How do you find these complaints?
1. “Here is what I have observed. It may not be true for you in which case, please ignore my advice.”
Telling someone something negative is difficult in most cases, but this statement allows the person to look at the situation and have his own opinion of it. There is no manipulative intention in this statement because you have invited him to ignore your advice if he disagrees and told him that you won’t hold it against him if he does nothing about it.
2. “When you do or say (blank), it upsets me. Please don’t do or say it in my presence”.
This statement lets someone know that their words or actions have an effect on you and gives them the choice, i.e. “Either don’t say this or do this or don’t expect me to be present.”
3. ” I have noticed (blank)” or “I have some bad news.”
Sometimes we do have to tell someone something we know they don’t want to hear. Honestly, I don’t think there is a perfect way to phrase something negative that you, as a friend really should tell someone. In this category I would include things like chronic bad BO or offensive curse words used at inappropriate times. Ask yourself if you really are doing that person a favor by telling them. Also ask yourself if there is anything that person can do about it. If not, it is useless to bring it up. In cases where you think that your best friend’s jeans make her butt look big but she thinks they are great, zip your lips! If her boyfriend is cheating on her and you have proof, then you do need to let her know.
4. “Your (husband, friend, kid) is awesome! I would love to help you guys out if you ever need it.”
Telling someone something negative about someone they care about is never a good idea. When you do this it puts the person that you do it to in a position of having to choose between you and his or her loved one. Even if the person is complaining about a family member or friend, don’t agree too strongly, because later, when things are going better, the person may resent the comments you made.
5. “I understand and I am there for you.”
A person who is having a rough time does not want to hear about how much worse you have it or had it. Just listen. If you really need a shoulder to cry on, find someone else until the other person gets back on their feet.
6. “Do you think (so and so) needs our help?”
If you notice something off with another person, and it’s bugging you, you should communicate about it. Then, if you think that person needs help, give it to them. If it is just a case of differing styles, again, keep it to yourself.
7. “Wow! Teach me to do that! You ROCK!”
Courage comes with knowledge. There are methods and technologies for learning ANYTHING. Are you embarrassed by Sting or John Mayer when they sing? They have learned art of performing and you can too!
8. “I’ve noticed (Blah di blah) and I think it needs to be handled! What can I do to help correct that?”
Noticing and taking action on things that are not correct is a sane and smart response.
9. “(So and So) is involved in (harmful action putting himself and others at risk) and here is the proof. I think we need to do something about it.”
People generally do not like to confront and handle others even when the list of harmful acts is growing and affecting a lot of people. The proof of this is the inaction of the world against Hitler in World War II until after millions of people were slaughtered. The bottom line though, is that action in some useful direction is a sane and correct response. Do not be surprised if you are the only one willing to tackle the problem. There is nothing wrong with pointing out and trying to curtail someone else’s harmful acts or crimes. There is something wrong with sitting around and doing nothing while that person destroys himself and everyone around him. Sometimes merely telling another about the situation is the first step in handling it. On the other hand, there is also something wrong with manufacturing false “proof” and presenting it as real. An act like that is never warranted.
10. “Something negative may happen but no matter what happens we can always do something to make it better. “
Simple and true.
11. “Wow! That is awful! I’m sorry that happened to you!”
Now, the person may have done an awful thing but pain and unhappiness never did anything to really solve a problem correctly. A person’s urge to commit harmful acts comes about because of past pain. Adding present time pain to the backlog of pain does not help
12. “I forgive you.”
If the person just messed up and is carving himself up with daggers on your doorstep, and you are certain he or she will pay more attention next time, decide whether you can trust him or her again. You can forgive someone without opening the door to future betrayals. Look carefully and decide.
13. Text “Are you free in the morning? I need someone to talk to.”
The phrase “I need someone to talk to” is a meaningful phrase. Your friend will understand and be there for you. You ahve also shown respect by asking first, instead of just unloading.
14. “What happened to Joe could have happened to any one of us. We need to correct that!”
Whether anyone you tell agrees with you is neither here nor there. Take steps to correct the situation so that it doesn’t take you all out. If you can’t correct it, find a better and safer environment.
15. “OK, that (thought, action, idea) was not the best. I know I can do better!”
There is nothing wrong with making mistakes and learning from them. Even the worst mistakes are learning experiences. It is not OK to degrade or invalidate yourself over your mistakes or to let someone else degrade or invalidate you because of them. We all make mistakes and the real go-getters make more mistakes than other people because they are more active. It is not OK to do it to someone else, so don’t do it to yourself.
I know that much of what I have said requires courage and in answer to your unspoken question, Yes I have had my tushie handed to me more times than I can count by standing up and doing the right thing. But it has only been the times that I have failed to act and someone got hurt that I regret. Courage means standing all by yourself sometimes, knowing that you are right. If you avoid all of the stupid complaints and work to make things better, you will be respected and even better, you will know you have kept your integrity. You may get your tushie handed to you but if you do I will be there for you.