Complaining is not a word I like because its negative connotations imply your right to express
disapproval and have it met with instant change. Which of course doesn’t usually happen. And that’s because disapproval feels like a moral judgment and no-one responds well to that. I prefer to use something like ‘expressing dissatisfaction’ but it’s not as catchy of course.
One of our mentors, Terry Real has a great 5 step process for complaining which I want to share with you:
Before you begin though, ask yourself why you want to express your dissatisfaction. This will affect your tone, your body language and the words you use so it’s pretty important.
- Want to vent and show you’re right?
- Want to change your partner?
- Want a better connection?
If you want to make things better then here are your 5 steps:
Step 1) This is what I observed
Stick to the facts that a video would have recorded. Keep it simple and behavioural. Don’t interpret or make assumptions. For example, ‘You came in, made yourself a drink and went straight to your laptop without greeting me.’
Step 2) This is the meaning it had for me
We all interpret things differently and must take responsibility for what we perceive and make up about it.
By saying ‘The story in my head is…’ you can share your interpretation without blaming or accusing your partner. Remember, you want to keep them engaged with you. They are likely to drop out at the first whiff of judgement.
For example.’ The story in my head was that I must have done something wrong and you were cross with me.’
Step 3) This is how I felt
Again, take responsibility here. No-one makes you feel anything. Remember not to make any judgements on your partner or their experience, just talk about yourself and your own feelings.
For example, ‘I felt rejected and hurt.’
Step 4) Here is something you could do or say that would make me feel better
Make sure you tell your partner what you want from them. A clear request will help you get what you want. (Remember to steer well clear of demands).
For example, ‘If you have something pressing to do before greeting me, please could you let me know?’
If you don’t ask, you can’t expect to get!
Step 5) Let it go
Now that you’ve communicated your thoughts and feelings you need to let it go. You’ve done what you can to make things better.
Watch Terry explaining it here
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