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15 Ways You Never Knew You Could Do To Complain Wisely

15 Ways You Never Knew You Could Do To Complain Wisely

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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